11 Sep 2020

Businesses seek 'economic resilience' in government's Covid-19 response

2:36 pm on 11 September 2020

Business leaders have strongly backed the government's handling of the Covid-19 outbreak, but are uncomfortable with the level of debt it is taking on.

A closed sign hanging in a shop window

Photo: 123RF

The Deloitte and Chapman Tripp Election Survey, hosted by Business New Zealand, showed 71 percent of chief executives support the government's approach to the pandemic but want a plan for raising the country's economic performance.

Deloitte chief executive Thomas Pippos said the survey set out a focus for future governments.

"Overall, [the] survey results suggest there is general support for the actions taken by the government to date in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, which is the key positive the government can take from the survey findings," Pippos said.

Most respondents wanted to see the government focus on economic wellbeing rather than cultural, environmental, or social wellbeing during the Covid recovery period, but about two-thirds did not think the government had a coordinated plan for economic recovery.

Among the favoured options for a recovery plan were building infrastructure, an overhaul of the Resource Management Act, cuts to taxes and regulations, and a return to 90-day job trials.

Only 43 percent believed the government had spent the right amount on business support, although more than three quarters strongly supported wage the subsidy and leave schemes.

Rising debt was a concern for most respondents, with only a third comfortable with the government debt reaching 53 percent of GDP by 2023 as outlined in the May budget.

Chapman Tripp chief executive partner Nick Wells said the pandemic was expected to persist for some time.

"With little sign of the pandemic easing in the short term, and an uncertain prospect of a vaccine, our collective focus needs to be on enabling economic resilience for the long haul, while protecting our borders and remaining vigilant.

"What the results of this survey show, is that amongst the business community there is appetite to embrace these challenging times as an opportunity, and usher in policy and legislative change to facilitate economic recovery."

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said the survey results revealed the impact of the pandemic on businesses.

"It is critical that the voice of business is heard in post-Covid planning and management," Hope said.

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