Minister of Finance out-of-touch with business

The Minister of Finance has provided no details on how the transition to the Traffic Light System will affect businesses, says National’s Shadow Treasurer Andrew Bayly.

“Businesses need to plan ahead of time for critical financial decisions such as provisional and terminal tax payments, not have the fence post move week by week. Grant Robertson is leaving it to the last minute to reveal any details of a new support system, such as who will be eligible and for how long.

“He hasn’t asked for any advice on how many businesses might close due to the changes, something any good Finance Minister would do for any large scale policy changes.

“While businesses may be able to open, some bars and restaurants may not be able to operate at full capacity over the Christmas and New Years’ holidays, and no details have been revealed on whether they will be eligible for support payments during that period.

“Organisations that represent businesses, such as Heart of the City and the Restaurant Association, have strongly advocated for Victoria style policies that encourage people to shop at local businesses, which would reduce the need for Government support. This is something that National would strongly support, and was a key part of our Back in Business plan announced in October.

“It was revealed this week that 46 per cent of Auckland businesses were not able to pay their September rent on time, a worryingly large portion.

“Companies Office data also showed that 16,700 businesses closed between August and October, a 123 per cent increase from the same period in 2019. This just goes to show that businesses are still struggling after 98 days of lockdown, and will be desperate to understand what they will be eligible for in the coming weeks.

“The Minister of Finance has spent billions from the Covid fund on wasteful pet projects over the last year. Maybe he could use that money on something more valuable, the businesses that keep New Zealand’s economy running.”