Govt urged to improve 'narrative' to boost Auckland business confidence

First@Five 08/06/2018
Auckland CBD. Photo: Getty.

A survey has revealed that Auckland businesses are losing confidence in the economy, with nearly half predicting that the economy would deteriorate.

Only 15 percent believed the economy would improve during the same period.

“Some of it’s perception and reality,” Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett said. “Some of that’s to do with messaging from Government.”

“I think businesses accept that there is a new government, there is going to be change.

“But I think there’s better messaging that could take place in what we have had,” he told RadioLIVE.

Mr Barnett reckoned that businesses fear of the return of unionised workforces, which would put pressure on businesses.

Some of that’s to do with messaging from Government.

Taxes are also causing businesses to sweat, particularly with the introduction of the regional fuel tax for Auckland.

For 10 years starting July 1, petrol in the Auckland region will be taxed an extra 11.5c a litre - 10c for the new tax, plus 1.5c in GST. The council says it'll raise more than $150 million a year to be put towards transport projects, part of a long-term effort to fix the city's notoriously bad traffic.

Employment laws could also be making businesses nervous, Mr Barnett explained. Businesses may be wary of the costs associated with law changes, like the restrictions put on place on National’s 90-day trial for new employees.  

“These are all messages that unsettle a small-medium business that are likely to be out there with fixed costs.”

Mr Barnett told First@Five’s James Coleman that the Government’s messaging suggests that businesses that can’t pay more “shouldn’t be in business”.

“I don’t think it’s the right sort of narrative to be imposing on them.”                             

Listen to the full interview with Michael Barnett above.

First@Five with James Coleman, 5am - 6am Monday To Friday, on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.