New Zealand business needs a new approach from Government to industry development, regulation, projects and procurement if the economy is going to start to recover.
In the media during the COVID-19 we have called for a new recovery playbook by Government to give businesses the flexibility to recover and thrive, and potentially increase their productivity.
The EMA recognised the opportunity for changes to be made that could ‘fast start’ existing businesses and potentially expand employment in key sectors. We understood that despite everything else going on, this is a Government in an election year and our discussions with businesses pointed to some quick wins, especially in sectors like manufacturing and construction, which were primed to go.
Beyond this we see an opportunity for business to drive the recovery plan for New Zealand, as we confront an unprecedented mountain of government debt that will be required to put the economy back on its feet, and minimize the obligations for future generations. We want that debt to fund transformation, not just recovery, because we need to be better as an economy than we have been in the past. We are working with InfrastructureNZ on the exciting VisionWeek initiative to start shaping the future options, and we see other opportunities to drive new directions.
In the short-term we have advocated on a number of key initiatives that we are pleased to say are in the process of being tabled by the Government for implementation including:
- using fast track and streamlined RMA consenting for shovel-ready projects, with consenting led by the project entities. This is now underway led by Minister David Parker.
- consent and bylaw changes to enable businesses and projects to operate 24 hours a day with multiple shifts, to speed up progress and to encourage businesses to hire more staff to fill the shifts. We are pleased to see Auckland Council extending hours for construction to 6.00AM till 8.00PM.
- reintroduction of the 90-day trial period to enable businesses to trial staff seeking to enter new industries and roles. Still in discussion
- use the acclaimed SCIRT and NCTIR project delivery models, developed for the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquake recoveries. This is being considered by Crown Infrastructure Partners and Ministers.
- allowing open book procurement by Government enabling lead contractors to be appointed to major projects quickly. This is being considered.
- bringing forward maintenance activity throughout New Zealand on roads, rail, hospital and schools, the latter while students are at home.
- re-purposing the Provincial Growth Fund to provide small local councils with the funding they need to kick-start those maintenance programmes. Implemented by Government.
- changing foreign investment rules and fast tracking OIO approvals to encourage private sector investment into new projects and expanded production activity. Under discussion.
We are also focused on other areas in the next stage of the recovery:
- delivering the Business Helpline in the North Island working alongside the Regional Business Partners to provide businesses with advice, information and also access to voucher funding.
- coordinating industry input into the Manufacturing Recovery Plan with government agencies, and I am currently chairing this group.
- providing input into the establishment of the Workforce Development Councils and Regional Skills Leadership Groups that will provide key leadership in the vocational education response to the need for increasing the skills capability of our workforce.
- advocating for an accelerated depreciation regime to encourage businesses to modernise, particularly around digital technologies, artificial intelligence and robotics, that could step change productivity and enhance competitiveness.
- working with government agencies on the redeployment of workers.
Above all we want to know how we can help your business be successful during this difficult time. Please call us with your requests, small or large and we will do our best to assist. It is not always easy but our goal is to always try on your behalf.
Kia kaha and keep safe,