Advocacy update

30 June 2020

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OSEA and the BusinessNZ network have been working together to advocate for our business community with Government during the covid-19 pre-lockdown, lockdown, and now as we have entered alert level 1.

Pre-lockdown advocacy

  • We asked for Government Departments to pay NZ suppliers within 10 days to provide cashflow to those businesses supplying goods and services to Govt (scale $40b of payments a year).
  • Wage subsidy - first iteration - in January and early February 2020 we were seeing a lot of businesses in trouble due to their exposure to rapidly dwindling tourist numbers, and the China tourist ban accommodation, hospitality, tourism, and tourism related retail.
  • The Government announced an estimated $5.2 billion wage subsidy scheme paid for 12 weeks in a lump sum to employers.  The scheme was capped at $150k and with a commitment by employers to make reasonable endeavours to continue to pay staff 80% of existing wages.
  • Sought a Business Loan Guarantee scheme to assist small and medium businesses - similar to the Australian scheme.  The Government agreed terms with the banks enabling businesses with between $250k and $80 million turnover to access up to $500k.

Post-lockdown

  • Sought an extension to the wage subsidy scheme removing the $150k cap to enable all businesses to access it.
  • Continued to work with businesses to identify issues with the scheme - one day after the announcement of the revised scheme it was further amended to clarify employers obligations in respect of part time staff.
  • Advocated to Ministers and MBIE to get further clarity on essential business requirements - worked with many individual businesses in putting their case forward and ensuring they were being treated fairly under the rules.
  • Along with the IOD advocated for and achieved amendment to the rules around trading while insolvent to ensure a 6 month safe harbour in Covid conditions similar to the Australian rules.

Post-lockdown and beyond

We have also advocated for:

  • Extension to the duration of work visas for overseas workers.
  • Further support for small business in the form of cashflow support.
  • An extension of the wage subsidy.
  • Clarity and certainty on the criteria for moving through different alert levels and what businesses are able to do at different levels.
  • Worked with Worksafe and the Health and Safety Business Leaders Forum on guidelines for businesses to operate under covid-19 conditions.
  • Worked with Rob Fyfe on identifying manufacturers that are available for manufacturing PPE to standards and at scale.
  • Worked with manufacturers in advocating for more manufacturers to be able to operate, where they can easily meet covid operating conditions, and are suppliers to essential businesses.
  • Sought amendments to the Govt procurement rules to ensure that when Govt are buying they are - to the greatest extent possible buying from NZ companies.
  • Contributed through the BusinessNZ Network to recovery work on identifying key infrastructure opportunities.
  • Engaged along with members in a variety of webinars with Ministers and officials on key issues for businesses.
  • Sought an extension of the wage subsidy scheme for the hardest hit sectors - and also for changing the threshold for the wage subsidy extension from 50% revenue decline to 40% revenue decline.
  • Sought the Interest Free Loan Scheme.
  • Advocated for more budget for advisory services for SMEs.
  • Amendments to the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme to make it more applicant friendly for SMES – including removing minimum turnover threshold and GSA requirements.
  • Worked with MBIE and Worksafe on Alert Level 3 guidelines to help business get back to work at different alert levels – advocated for moves down alert levels to get the economy working.
  • Continued advocacy on immigration related workforce issues including ensuring visa for essential service workers were extended, and for enabling visas for important economic activity post lockdown.
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