Business sector hangs on to election promises: 'We need more support'

Business sector hangs on to election promises: 'We need more support'

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The hospitality trade is one of several hard-hit parts of the business sector lining up for the Government’s ear.

SUPPLIED

The hospitality trade is one of several hard-hit parts of the business sector lining up for the Government’s ear.

Auckland restaurant NS bar manager Amandeep Gadri​ is pretty clear on what he’d like to see the new Labour-led Government do for his industry.

‘’In a nutshell, we would like some really good support with regards to covering lost incomes,’’ he said.

At the two businesses he managed, ’’because of the lockdown and Covid … we face a loss to the tune of roughly a million dollars for each of the businesses.’’

Government wage subsidies had helped staff but did not substantially help the business, and Covid loans were capped at a level which only helped pay the most outstanding bills, he said.

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But outgoings were unchanged, and rising costs, such as Labour’s promise of longer sick leave, were not helping.

‘ ’We are still in the same place.’’

Amandeep Gadri, general manager of two hospitality businesses on Auckland’s North Shore, says his and others in the trade are struggling to make up lockdown losses.

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Amandeep Gadri, general manager of two hospitality businesses on Auckland’s North Shore, says his and others in the trade are struggling to make up lockdown losses.

The hurting hospitality trade is just one of many business sectors in line for the Government’s attention, with retailers close behind.

Greg Harford, public affairs spokesman for Retail New Zealand, said a quarter of his members not confident they would survive the next year.

‘’The most important thing is to keep the economy moving, to keep consumer confidence and business confidence up, and that’s going to be a bit more challenging, particularly if we continue to yo-yo in and out of lockdown over the coming months.’’

Retailers would be urging the Government to realise its promise to regulate merchant fees, and potentially those of the increasingly popular buy now-pay later services.

High payment fees and consumer confidence are two priorities Retail NZ’s Greg Harford believes are key.

Supplied

High payment fees and consumer confidence are two priorities Retail NZ’s Greg Harford believes are key.

At the other end of the country, Tom Marshall of Invercargill sheetmetal and light engineering company Marshall Industries, said his feeling right now was one of ‘’nervousness. We don’t know what’s really going to happen.’’

He hoped the Government would take a firmer hand on the quality of imported products, and he was also concerned about the emissions and transmission pressures facing New Zealand Steel, which meant steel users like himself would have to rely on imports.

Kirk Hope, head of Business New Zealand, said it had been good to hear the Prime Minister talking about infrastructure in her acceptance speech.

‘’The Government can not only make up the deficit but make quite a difference for New Zealand lives in the next 50 years. They are in a position because of Covid where people will accept the utilisation of debt for the development of the country’s infrastructure.’’

Maintenance work and deferred capital expenditure could be staggered to create a 10 to 12-year pipeline of work that could keep people in jobs, Hope said.

‘’I think the key is make sure the Government doesn’t have to do everything. What it has to be smart at is using public sector investment along with private sector investment and then you can get some really big scale change.’’

Bindi Norwell hopes property management regulations and affordable housing will continue to be on Labour’s priority list.

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Bindi Norwell hopes property management regulations and affordable housing will continue to be on Labour’s priority list.

A clear election result is also expected to keep the very strong property market humming, as it heads into its summer busy season.

Bindi Norwell, chief executive of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, said usually property sales paused for breath before an election, but Covid had changed that, and she did not expect any negative economic fallout to affect it the market for at least six months.

‘’We’d expect continued investment in property, and the FOMO that people are having at the moment, the fear of missing out, will continue.’’

The estimated $10 billion that Kiwis typically spent on overseas travel each year was being spent at home.

‘’And until the borders are open are people start travelling and spending money outside the country, they’ll continue to invest in New Zealand.’’

Longer sick leave and more support for displaced workers are what CTU president Richard Wagstaff is looking for.

STUFF

Longer sick leave and more support for displaced workers are what CTU president Richard Wagstaff is looking for.

Policy-wise, REINZ hoped that Labour would stick to its plan to review the regulation of property managers, and bring in ‘’at least’’ a code of conduct, and hopefully minimum training and some recourse for complaints.

She also hoped that pending changes around the Resource Management Act would lead to a faster rollout of affordable housing. ‘’The key thing is being able to build more houses at scale.’’

The Combined Trades Union said now that the new government did not have a handbrake, it was expected to move faster.

CTU president Richard Wagstaff said he expected the Government to swiftly honour its promise to introduce 10 days of annual sick leave, lift funding for Worksafe, and pass legislation on fair pay agreements.

It also expected the Government to extend the living wage to all public sector contractors.

Wagstaff said it was time to see existing policy work on industry transformation, labour markets and displaced workers come to pass.

‘’New Zealanders have shown at the ballot box that they’re impatient and want to transition to a future of work that is higher value and lower carbon. The union movement is a critical part of this change.’’

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