Chamber Lukewarm On Government Covid-19 Response

Mar 17, 2020
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The Southland Chamber of Commerce is cautiously welcoming the Government’s Covid-19 business response package – while also helping coordinate a collaborative regional approach to combat the serious economic impacts being felt, chief executive Sheree Carey says.

First and foremost, it was vitally important that people followed Ministry of Health guidelines to help protect themselves, their businesses and their communities, Carey said.

“People’s health is the most important priority for our country and our regions – and we need to remain vigilant and follow the advice and protocols of health professionals.”

The Chamber was encouraged to see the Government being pro-active but noted payments for wage subsidies were capped at $150,000 per business, which could leave larger businesses significantly out of pocket.

There was also a big question mark over whether the wage subsidies would be enough to save jobs, she said.

It was disappointing to note the Government was not postponing the planned April 1 rise in the minimum wage.

As about 80% of the Chambers’ membership was comprised of small and medium enterprises, it was good to see the package would provide some assistance to employers, self-employed people and sole traders affected by the outbreak, Carey said.

The Chamber welcomed tax changes for business, including interest being waived for some late tax payments, more deductions for low value assets, depreciation deductions for commercial and industrial buildings, and a higher provisional tax threshold.

Carey said the Chamber was working closely with Great South, which is the MBIE regional business partner in Southland, to help advise and support Southland businesses.

A business and response team would likely be put together to ensure the Southland region worked collaboratively and used every lever available to it to cushion the impact of the slowdown, she said.

“There are a lot of very concerned people around our region – particularly in sectors that had already been feeling the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak, and we’re determined to do everything we can to support them through this difficult time.”

Carey encouraged people to shop local and support Southland businesses wherever possible.

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