State Government must act to counteract coronavirus fallout
BUSINESS NSW, the state's peak business organisation, says the State Government has to take a bold approach in June's State Budget to restore confidence and avoid job losses, as the impact of COVID-19 begins to take hold.
The number of coronavirus cases in NSW, Australia's hardest hit state, has jumped to 77 people overnight after the World Health Organisation formally declared a global pandemic.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the virus was fast evolving and it should not be treated as 'business as usual' in NSW, as the government reviews it's policies on mass public gatherings and major events.
The Premier urged the state to remain vigilant and avoid public panic.
"We are asking everybody to be alert," the Premier said.
"I want to assure all of our citizens that if you take the precautions and you're extra careful, that there is nothing to be concerned about," Ms Berejiklian said.
Across Australia there have been at least 128 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three deaths, while 24 infected patients have recovered.
With talk of mass gatherings and major events in coming weeks being reviewed, postponed or cancelled, there are also fears the economy will be hit hard, with downturns in the retail and tourism industries already being reported.
Business NSW has formally lodged its Pre-Budget submission with the government.
"With everything the State has confronted - from weak household demand, drought, bushfires and now COVID-19 - we need robust action from the Government to ensure NSW remains the place to do business in Australia," Business NSW, Mid North Coast Regional Manager Kellon Beard said.
Measures Business NSW is calling on the government to introduce in the budget include:
• reducing payroll tax to protect employment in the sectors most affected
• deferring payroll tax for SMEs to support business cash flow
• halting any increases in government-related fees and charges for business, including workers compensation premiums
• implementing targeted stimulus for businesses in heavily affected industries such as tourism
• establishing measures to better prepare NSW for future economic shocks.
"The focus of government should be on limiting the impact of government taxes, fees and charges so communities and their local economies can recover sooner," Mr Beard said.
"Equally, sufficient resources will need to be made available to look after those directly and indirectly affected by recent and ongoing events. This must also include support for businesses which are vital to employment in NSW's regional communities.
"Prior to last year's State Election, Business NSW advocated for policy measures to protect NSW from natural disasters including reducing taxes on insurance, providing flexible payroll tax arrangements and ensuring businesses get Government support from disasters quickly.
"Our submission calls for a tax relief package which would send a strong signal of support and provide businesses and consumers with the confidence to maintain spending, investment and employment levels. Last week the Queensland Government gave their employers a six-month payroll tax holiday - it's time for NSW to do the same.
"The benefits would extend beyond the direct relief offered to eligible employers by giving communities, including employees and small business suppliers, greater confidence concerning their financial resilience during these tough times. There is also a strong case for targeted payroll tax reductions to support employers most at risk of reducing staffing levels.
"Our submission also points to the need to start planning now for the economic recovery and for strategies to help industries, especially tourism, take advantage of the recovery opportunities," Mr Beard said.