Minister of Small Business Stuart Nash says he is concerned about low business confidence levels and says the Government needs to work harder to alleviate these issues.
But he says a new 13-member Small Business Council was not set up in response to business’ plummeting levels of optimism.
On Friday, Nash announced the appointment of the council which will help the Government develop a strategy to “drive improvement and innovation in the small business sector.”
“It will play an important role in lifting the performance of New Zealand’s many small enterprises.”
Members of the group include representatives from Xero, the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce, Fonterra and the Bankers’ Association.
Nash says the group is an alternative to the Small Business Development Group, set up by the previous Government, which “was not as effective as it could be.”
He says the group was not specifically designed to help improve business confidence but to give smaller businesses, which make up 97% of businesses in the country, a voice in Government.
But he does see business confidence, which has fallen to the lowest levels since the Global Financial Crisis, as an issue for the Government.
“I will be honest with you, as the Minister of Small Business, but also as the Minister of Revenue, it does concern me that business confidence is as low as it is.
“There is a challenge to our Government to work harder and to get close to businesses to understand what the issues are and how we can help alleviate some of those issues.”
The Small Business Council is not the first time the Government has reached out to the business community.
Before the Budget, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern formed the Future of Work Tripartite Forum which brings together businesses, unions and government to “future proof” the economy.
In fact, in a round of interviews she did upon her return to work after maternity leave, Ardern made sorting out business confidence one of her top priorities.
Nash says there are a number of factors that affect business confidence that the Government cannot control, such as international trade war tensions.
But he echoes the Prime Minister’s sentiment in wanting to sort out the issue.
“What I’m keen to do is engage with businesses in a meaningful way that allows the Government to put in place processes and policies that allow businesses to take advantage of 21st century opportunities.”
He says one of the ways the Government will achieve this is through the new Small Business Council.
He says it will take a birds-eye look at the issues and opportunities for small business and provide insights and recommendations for a government strategy.
Terry Baucher: Director of Baucher Consulting Ltd
· Rachel Brown: CEO/Founder of Sustainable Business Network
· Anthony Buick-Constable: Deputy Chief Executive and General Counsel of NZ Bankers Association
· Nicole Buisson: Small Business Director, Xero
· Jim Gordon: Director of Jim Gordon Tax Ltd
· Andy Hamilton: CEO The Icehouse Ltd, Director of FaceMe Limited
· Jerry He: Chairman of Asia Pacific MSMEs Trade Coalition
· Allison Lawton: Chief Executive of Rotorua Chamber of Commerce
· Tenby Powell: Director of Hunter Powell Investment Partners
· Alison Brewer Shearer: General Manager, Fonterra Shareholders' Council
· Dr Deborah Shepherd: Senior Lecturer - University of Auckland Business School, Facilitator at the Icehouse
· Tania Siladi: Co-Owner/Director of Dragonfly Hospitality Group Limited, Co-Owner/Director of Asian Food Republic
· Leeann Watson: Chief Executive of Canterbury Employer’s Chamber of Commerce
Powell is chairman and Shepherd deputy chairman.