Asset sales plan frustrates business owners

By Ben Chapman-Smith

In the MYOB Business Monitor, only 21 per cent of businesses were in favour of state asset sales. Photo / Supplied
In the MYOB Business Monitor, only 21 per cent of businesses were in favour of state asset sales. Photo / Supplied

New Zealand business owners are frustrated with high profile policies currently being pushed by political parties and want to see more focus on the economy, according to the latest business survey.

The MYOB Business Monitor surveyed 1,000 small and medium business owners to gauge the national mood.

When asked about major political policies, 54 per cent of businesses said they opposed National's programme of state asset sales, with only 21 per cent in favour.

Opposition to asset sales had been consistent and showed no sign of changing as the sales approached, said MYOB general manager Julian Smith.

"Businesses simply do not buy the Government's rationale for the sale."

Labour's proposal to expand paid parental leave to 26 weeks found 48 per cent opposition and 23 per cent approval.

"While they would be totally supportive of parents' right to spend more time with their children, there are concerns this would be a big cost at a time when many businesses are struggling to maintain profitability," said Smith.

Instead, businesses said they wanted to see more focus on simplifying regulations and policies to promote training and job creation.

"The message from business owners is very clear - they want cutting red tape and creating jobs right at the top of the political agenda.

"They want to see Government taking an active role in helping businesses to hire well trained staff members."

Of those surveyed, 75 per cent of business owners said they would vote for increased government funding for apprenticeships and training.

Changes making it easier to manage provisional tax obligations received 79 per cent approval.

Other popular policies were simplification of PAYE regulations, the introduction of a 'starting out' wage for young people, and changes making it easier for business owners to manage their employees' leave.

Another message to come through was the desire for more focus on research and development, and training and education, Smith said.

Just over half of those surveyed said they would vote for the reintroduction of research and development tax credits, with just 10 per cent opposing it.

Smith says these types of policy were popular because businesses could see clear economic benefits, which was not true of policies like asset sales or increasing paid parental leave.

"By focusing more on the legislative environment needed to help business owners create jobs and invest in business development, while making it easier for them to manage compliance, we can get our economy growing strongly again."

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