Economic support package a lifesaver

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult has welcomed a statement from Finance Minister Grant Robertson detailing government’s $12.1 billion fiscal response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Minister Robertson and his government colleagues are to be congratulated for recognising the pain that coronavirus has brought to the industry in New Zealand generally, but in particular to our district. We applaud this and thank the government for their swift intervention.”

“Following the Reserve Bank’s recent announcement to cut interest rates, this government package offers a level of reassurance, particularly to small businesses and to workers in our district,” Boult said.

“The outbreak has the potential to have a significant impact on our local economy given the dramatic slowdown in visitor numbers, and the high reliance on the visitor sector for so many in the district. I am personally very concerned about the long-term effect that this will have for local businesses and our residents’ financial and mental wellbeing.”

Tourism directly employs 63 per cent (19,084) of the district’s workforce, with accommodation and food services employing a further 21.7 per cent (6,502). Both services contribute approximately 73 per cent of the district’s GDP.

A wage subsidy scheme will pay employers up to $150,000 per business over the next 12 weeks to keep employees on if they can demonstrate a 30 per cent decline in revenue for any month between January and June when compared to 2019.

“I am confident that many of our employers will be eligible with the stark slowdown in visitor numbers. And with winter around the corner, additional benefits and winter energy payments for beneficiaries will be very welcome,” Boult said.

“This package will help smaller businesses significantly but larger businesses will be eagerly awaiting the results of continuing government investigations into support for large or complex businesses – several whom are significant employers in our district. Also, these same entities will be anticipating further support as a result of officials’ investigations into working capital support and collaborations with trading banks.”

A $2.8 billion package of tax changes will also be introduced for business waiving interest for some late tax payments, more deductions for low-value assets, depreciation deductions for commercial and industrial buildings, and a higher provisional tax threshold.

“Given our district’s almost total reliance on the tourism industry in the Queenstown Lakes District, I am advocating for additional support from the central government for local business. I am meeting with ministers and representatives from the visitor and accommodation sectors on Thursday, and I want to see more being done for our district who is at a significantly higher risk than any other in the country.”


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