Employers’ Manifesto: Speed up consents, certify young workers, boost small business and innovation

Kim Campbell, EMA Chief Executive

Making local government consenting processes quicker and less bureaucratic tops the wishlist in the Employers and Manufacturers Association’s Election Manifesto 2014. (See attached document)

“Some local building and resource consenting authorities need a rocket up them,” says Kim Campbell, EMA’s chief executive. “EMA members keep telling us about constant delays in the issuing of building and other resource consents.”

He says the delays are frustrating and discourage the development of jobs. The legacy of leaky buildings has left a process, he adds, that seems more concerned with protecting a local authority than facilitating the development and growth of their region.

Other parts of the six-point Manifesto advocate a certificate of employment readiness for those entering the workforce; encouraging more young people to enter the trades; simplifying and broadening innovation grants; small business growth suggestions; and changes to KiwiSaver and superannuation policies. 

Education, skills and migrants
Businesses are reporting a shortage of skills and some young people leaving school without adequate work readiness skills. Plus more needs to be done to encourage careers in the trades.

a. Employment Readiness Certificates be issued to all students when leaving secondary school so a meaningful assessment is available to employers of that person’s skills in reading, writing, mathematics, on-time attendance and attitude.

b. Increase the number of students choosing a trades career through:

(i) A national public relations campaign:

  1. Highlighting trades as a valuable career choice.
  2. Encouraging influencers of students’ career decisions to not discourage high achieving students from a trades career.(ii) All students having access to quality, independent, expert career advisors who have no bias towards academia or trades.

c. A temporary work visa be automatically extended when the migrant continues to work for, and with the support of, the original employer, unless Immigration NZ can show a suitable New Zealander is available to replace that migrant.

Innovation, research and development
Current incentives to encourage Kiwi ingenuity that will drive the high value, high wage economy are well intentioned, but complex and narrow excluding other valuable innovation.

  1. Broaden and simplify the application of grants, accelerated depreciation and tax credits to ensure equitable encouragement is available to all innovation.
  2. Introduce soft loans as another form of encouraging innovation.

Local government consenting process
Consenting is slow and unduly bureaucratic, sometimes being more concerned with protecting local authorities than facilitating the growth and development of their regions.

a. Require all local authorities that issue building and resource consents to:

(i) Establish and publish a standard for total elapsed time between a consent application being submitted and being granted, with unreasonable standards being subject to judicial review.

(ii) Publicise their performance in meeting those standards.

b. Legislate to require building and resource consent functions to be delivered by a co-located, single point-of-contact in each territory.

c. Fully review the local authority fire regulations to ensure common sense and context is applied.

Small business growth
Small business is a vital part of New Zealand’s success, but some choose to remain small because the factors required to take the next step in growth are viewed as too difficult or too risky. Remaining small or growing slowly means the economy, the workers and the owners can miss out on the mutual benefits of expansion, innovation and growth.

  1. Allow experienced expert company directors to be appointed director of a small business without exposing them to the liabilities that company directors otherwise face, provided they have no direct financial interest in the business.
  2. Encourage mergers of small businesses by allowing them a two-year partial tax holiday following a merger or takeover, with the tax holiday only applying on the taxable income additional to that of the combined taxable income of the small businesses prior to merger or takeover.

Small business is a business that employs fewer than 20 employees. Combined taxable income is calculated by taking the average of each businesses taxable income for two years prior and adding them together.

Superannuation and business investment
Retirement savings is important for ensuring our older people can live in dignity, for addressing the fiscal costs of the increasing aging population, and assisting businesses expand and grow through retirement savings being invested in them. Providing more flexibility in the age to access retirement savings would be desirable.

  1. The age of entitlement for National Superannuation be increased to 67, phased in by 2023. The age of withdrawal from KiwiSaver to remain 65.
  2. Reduce tax on KiwiSaver and private long-term savings to 15% and remove the KiwiSaver member tax credit of $541 per annum.
  3. Government to create an equitable commercial annuity product as an alternative option to withdrawing KiwiSaver and other retirement savings in a lump sum.

Private long-term savings be accessed at age 50 or five years after commencement, whichever is the later.

Retain current policies

  1. Retain or reduce current income tax and company tax thresholds
  2. Retain a comprehensive GST regime
  3. Continue to progress Free Trade Agreements
  4. Retain employment trial periods
  5. Retain youth rates
  6. Retain current Emissions Trading Scheme
  7. Retain current Hazardous Substances and New Organisms regulations
  8. Retain or reduce current ACC levy rates

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