Govt's coronavirus package welcomed in Otago

Dougal McGowan.
Dougal McGowan.
The Otago Chamber of Commerce says the Government’s economic stimulus package announced today is "a good first step’’ that will help businesses stay open in difficult times.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has today announced the Government will pump $12.1 billion into the New Zealand economy to try soften the impact of Covid-19, the global pandemic that threatens to tip the world into a protracted recession. As part of the package $5.1 billion is set aside for wage subsidies and $126 million of that is to be used to cover leave and isolation support related to Covid-19.

To get access to wage subsidies businesses will have to be able to show a 30% drop in revenue in any month between January and June this year.

They could get: $585.80 per week in pre-tax support for full-time employees in a lump sum of $7,029,60; $350 per week for part-time employees (under 20 hours) in a lump sum of $4,200. The maximum payment for any business is capped at $150,000.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan described it as a far-reaching programme.

"The biggest question we’ve been fielding for the last couple of days is the self-isolation and understanding that.

"That’s going to really help businesses knowing there is support in that space for wage relief, which will be fantastic. It allows a bit of breathing space.

"I think for those that are suffering those losses as well — the demonstratable losses in income over that period — it does give them a way to keep their doors open and keep people employed."

There was also a permanent increase of $25 per week for all benefits as well as a temporary increase in the winter energy payment.

Mr McGowan said he was pleased there was support for not just businesses, but the wider community as well.

"There’s also that social sector spending which is going to be good for the greater economy by hopefully easing up a bit of discretionary spending for some people.

"It takes a bit of that mental stress off for a number of people.’’

The Otago Chamber of Commerce would now help businesses figure out what they were entitled to, Mr McGowan said.

"The key now is to help businesses understand what it means for them. Not only the businesses. but the employees that are within it. Getting them to understand how it looks for them and rolling it out so they can get that support as and where needed.

"Now’s the time we really need to hear from them if they meet any of that criteria so we can ... help them out.’’

 - additional reporting BusinessDesk


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