Busi­ness wish-list tar­gets tax and con­tro­ver­sial law

The Press - - Business - ELLEN READ

Gyms, cafes and cine­mas owned by lo­cal coun­cils could be closed if politi­cians elected in Septem­ber agree with a new busi­ness-sec­tor wish-list.

The list – re­leased to­day in the Busi­ness New Zea­land elec­tion man­i­festo – out­lines seven pri­or­i­ties busi­ness wants the next Gov­ern­ment to act on.

The lobby group did not ex­press a view on which party or par­ties should form the next Gov­ern­ment.

But lo­cal gov­ern­ment is firmly in the fir­ing line, ac­cused of sub­si­dis­ing its own en­ter­prises in com­pe­ti­tion with lo­cal firms.

Coun­cils that ‘‘en­croach’’ on lo­cal busi­nesses should be made to stick to core func­tions like in­fra­struc­ture, the man­i­festo said.

It was gen­er­ated from a sur­vey of 575 busi­nesses through­out the coun­try.

The Re­source Man­age­ment Act (RMA) came in for the strong­est crit­i­cism with 95 per cent of re­spon­dents call­ing for the new gov­ern­ment to ‘‘fix it or flick it’’.

‘‘There’s a strong view that the RMA is hold­ing the coun­try back,’’ Busi­ness NZ chief ex­ec­u­tive Kirk Hope said, adding it was seen as lack­ing in guid­ance to coun­cils on dis­trict plans, mean­ing many made de­ci­sions that busi­ness felt ended up af­fect­ing prop­erty rights, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and re­gional growth.

Taxes, skills gaps, free trade, in­fra­struc­ture, in­no­va­tion and re­gional growth were the other pri­or­i­ties.

‘‘Busi­ness wants to see a tax cut for all cat­e­gories of tax­payer early in the first term of the new Gov­ern­ment, and no new taxes of any kind,’’ Hope said.

Em­ploy­ers in many sec­tors were also wor­ried about be­ing un­able to fill job va­can­cies, and wanted ac­tion on skills.

‘‘They are un­happy with the level of skills com­ing out of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and want those skill gaps fixed by ed­u­ca­tion and, if nec­es­sary, im­mi­gra­tion.

‘‘They want em­ploy­ees with bet­ter tech­ni­cal skills to help to grow more in­no­va­tive and sus­tain­able busi­nesses.’’

Hope said busi­ness wanted a Gov­ern­ment that con­tin­ued ne­go­ti­at­ing free-trade agree­ments to re­duce the tar­iff bur­den on New Zea­land ex­porters.

A large ma­jor­ity sup­port the new TPP-11 and want trade agree­ments with the US, UK and EU.

‘‘Th­ese seven pri­or­i­ties, if en­acted by a new Gov­ern­ment, would im­prove the en­vi­ron­ment for en­ter­prise and help busi­ness to cre­ate jobs and pros­per­ity in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties all over New Zea­land.’’

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