Small Business Minister Stuart Nash: A lifeline for Kiwi businesses

Opinion 04/05/2020

This op-ed is written by Hon Stuart Nash, Minister of Police, Fisheries, Revenue and Small Business.

OPINION: New Zealand is a country built on small business. From Cape Reinga to Bluff, small businesses are at the heart of our communities and keep our economy running.

With much of the country back at work this week, it’s been great to see these businesses open again, many of them showcasing our famous Kiwi ingenuity as they find ways to operate safely under Alert Level 3.

But while the move to Alert Level 3 is good news for business, we know we’re not out of the woods yet. The economic downturn caused by COVID-19 is hitting every nation hard, and many small businesses here in New Zealand are feeling the pain.

We’ve already put in place a number of initiatives to cushion COVID-19’s economic blow. From the $12 billion wage subsidy scheme to commercial property and mortgage deferral measures, we’ve acted quickly and decisively to support Kiwi businesses and ensure New Zealand is well positioned for recovery.

However, the economic impact of COVID-19 is unlike anything we’ve seen in recent times. That’s why, this week, our Government announced further measures to support Kiwi businesses and the communities they’re part of.

The first of these measures is a significant package of tax reforms. Passed by Parliament on Thursday, these reforms will give small and medium-sized businesses more than $3 billion in tax refunds, and will provide a much-needed cash flow lifeline for businesses as they deal with the ongoing impact of the virus.

On top of this, we’ve also announced a new loan scheme for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Under the scheme, the Government will provide loans of up to $100,000 to businesses with up to 50 employees. These loans will be interest-free if paid back within a year, and businesses will be able to apply from 12 May.

Together, these changes deliver the single biggest government support package to businesses through the tax system in modern New Zealand history. More importantly, they’ll help get cash flowing back to the small businesses that are so vital to our communities and to our economy.

As the full impact of COVID-19 becomes clearer, we’ll look at other ways to support business, and we’ll announce further measures to kickstart economic recovery in the Budget later this month. In the meantime, there’s an easy way we can all do our bit to support Kiwi businesses – and that’s by shopping locally.

Hon Stuart Nash is Minister of Police, Fisheries, Revenue and Small Business.