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Kiwi SMEs... Which political party do you trust with NZ's future?

08 Sep 2014

New Zealand small businesses are still looking for policies to reduce their compliance burden, that’s according to the latest nationwide MYOB Business Monitor survey of business owners and operators from around the country.

The survey of over 1,000 SMEs, conducted by Colmar Brunton, was released at a special Small Business debate in Wellington.

Participating in the debate were National’s Steven Joyce, Labour’s Trevor Mallard, James Shaw of the Green Party, Laila Harré of Internet Mana, Colin Craig of the Conservatives and Robin Grieve from the ACT Party.

Conducted just prior to the latest round of Provisional Tax payments, MYOB says the survey is a timely reminder that SME operators are still struggling to manage their compliance responsibilities.

“Simplifying the tax regime – especially around Provisional Tax – always features highly for SME operators,” says Adam Ferguson, General Manager - Accounting Division, MYOB.

“As we get close to the election, they are also interested in cheaper access to uncapped broadband. The idea of tightening controls on foreign investment has also resonated with SME voters.”

Top three policies for SME operators:

• Reduced prices for unlimited data broadband – 69% for

• Simplification of Provisional Tax rules – 67% for

• Tighter controls on foreign investment – 54% for

The most unpopular policy within the SME sector is Labour’s current capital gains tax policy. 60% of SME operators oppose introducing a capital gains tax, while just 15% would vote for it. Only a quarter of SME voters say the policy would not affect their vote, reflecting the strong interest in the issue.

Three most unpopular policies for SME operators:

• Introduction of Capital Gains Tax – 60% against

• Raising the superannuation age to 67 – 43% against

• Remove 90 days trial period – 39% against

Satisfaction with Government support remains steady

Satisfaction with the support of the Government has remained steady throughout 2014, according to the Business Monitor.

Currently a third (33%) of SME operators are satisfied with the support of the Government, while less than a quarter (24%) are dissatisfied. The levels of both satisfaction and dissatisfaction are unchanged since the March survey.

Among the business sectors, the finance and insurance industry is most satisfied with the support of the Government (53% satisfied).

The resurgent manufacturing and wholesale sector has also improved its view of the Government’s support – now at 42% satisfaction, up from 33% in March.

Dissatisfaction is highest within the construction and trades industry (32% dissatisfied) and the retail and hospitality sector (30%).

Majority of SMEs trust National’s handling of the economy

In the final weeks leading up to the election, almost two thirds of the country’s SME operators have expressed their trust in National’s management of the economy.

Of those surveyed 63% trust National the most in terms of the appropriate management of the economy, up from 60% in September last year.

The Labour Party enjoys the trust of 8% of SME operators, down from 10% in September 2013, while the Green Party, New Zealand First and the Conservative Party are each trusted the most to manage the economy by 2% of SME operators.

ACT and Internet Mana are on 1%, with the Maori Party and United failing to register - 15% of SME operators also don’t trust any one party more than the others to manage the economy.

Ferguson says the SME community is vitally important to the economy – and the community.

According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, there are just under 460,000 SMEs operating in New Zealand, employing 30% of the workforce and contributing nearly 30% of the country’s GDP.

“What our SME operators are asking for is an understanding of the challenges and pressures they face and a regulatory framework that is both easy to understand and straight-forward to operate in,” Ferguson adds.

“Most importantly, New Zealand SME operators want to see simplicity from their policy makers.

"There are too many demands on their time to be further bound up in reporting and compliance.

"Any party that makes a commitment to cutting red tape will win the support of New Zealand’s SMEs – and free them to make a still greater contribution to New Zealand.”