’Naki optimism down but not out
Taranaki businesses are reporting a decline in optimism about New Zealand’s economic conditions.
Since an unprecedented high was recorded by the Venture Taranaki business survey in December last year, optimism has declined by about 10 per cent.
However, 52 per cent of businesses surveyed still thought the country’s economic conditions were likely to improve next year.
The survey, which was sent out to more than 1500 Taranaki businesses, showed only 7 per cent of those surveyed anticipated a deterioration of conditions, while 39 per cent expected things would stay the same.
‘‘This survey demonstrates that Taranaki businesses continue to do well, as does the region, though it does signal that a more con- servative and cautious view is creeping in to business outlooks,’’ said Venture Taranaki chief executive Stuart Trundle.
‘‘While this is likely a reflection of a range of external factors, including the upcoming election, interest rate and currency uncertainty and a possible move back from record dairy prices, it does reinforce the need for solid medium and long-term planning and constant review of how successfully businesses are aligning to their markets.’’
The cost of fuel and electricity were the biggest concerns for business owners, though the level of concern had decreased since December.
‘‘This survey demonstrates that Taranaki businesses continue to do well, as does the region, though it does signal that a more conservative and cautious view is creeping in to business outlooks.’’ Stuart Trundle Venture Taranaki chief executive
The survey also reported increasing concerns by business owners about the availability of finance, the cost of materials, interest rates, and staffing costs.
In contrast to the December 2013 survey, businesses reported a de- cline in skill shortages.
‘‘While demand is less pronounced for skilled people in the energy and engineering sectors, respondents have indicated a looming shortage in the digital and information and communications technology sectors, as well as a need for skilled people with the flexibility to fill short-term roles,’’ said Trundle.
The survey also asked Taranaki businesses a range of questions about the 2014 budget.
Businesses ranked the extension of paid parental leave from 14 to 18 weeks as the least supported Budget initiative and were most supportive of the initiative to increase funding for 6000 extra places for apprentices.
Overall, survey participants ranked the Budget 3.2 out of 5.
The Taranaki Business Survey has been conducted every six months since 1999.