Lee Kenny / Stuff
Grant Robertson says the government is aware that start-ups and small businesses struggle to access capital as easily as larger companies.
The government plans to do more to help small and medium-sized businesses and post-Covid start-ups, especially with access to capital.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in a webinar hosted by BDO on Wednesday that he was working with Small Business Minister Stuart Nash on additional support beyond what had already been offered in terms of business loan guarantees.
The world could be flooded with capital, but not always for companies and start-ups at the smaller end of the spectrum, he said.
“We want our commercial banks to be primarily where people borrow and get their loans.
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“But we also recognize that government has a role here, and we want it to be an enabling role to support, in particular, start-ups, but also those looking to grow.
“So what we’re looking at is if that support is provided directly, if it’s provided through an intermediary it will inevitably be a mixture of both.”
Grant Robertson says the government is keen on more travel bubbles.
The Business Finance Guarantee Scheme, which ended in June, pledged to support banks and lenders who might not otherwise have supported companies affected by Covid.
The program was not well used initially, and Robertson said it “eventually worked” but “highlighted issues” with support for SMEs.
He hinted that some of this support could be tied to innovation and research. Policies such as the R&D tax credit were “really good but mostly at the broader end of the spectrum”.
Robertson reminded small businesses of flexi-wage, a temporary contribution to jobseekers’ wages that was introduced during the pandemic.
“It’s available for people to start businesses, and there are grants to start, move and grow.”
In general, he felt that the government had laid “a good foundation” for SMEs during the pandemic “but I recognize that these specific issues around access to finance and access to skills will remain issues that we need to work on. together”.
Robertson said reviving the economy would focus on productivity, trade, skills, infrastructure and capital.
While the government had set aside $57 billion over the next five years for infrastructure spending, it was still keen to find partners, especially in private capital.
The post-treaty iwi economy was one area where “we haven’t realized the potential”, with real opportunities not just in housing but in all areas, he said.
Robertson was also asked why exporters who had to travel weren’t given priority for vaccinations and MIQ spots.
“I absolutely get the frustration,” he said, and pointed to a big increase in funding for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise “to be able to be a market presence for exporters” where businesses couldn’t. go to a particular country.
“I encourage anyone who is struggling in this regard to speak to NZTE and try to use their good offices to try to move forward [matters].”
But there were also New Zealanders who, a year later, were still trying to return home, and the government had certain obligations to them under the New Zealand Bill of Rights, which all countries do not had not.
Robertson said there would be more details to come on how the government intended to deal with border restrictions, and on Tuesday he indicated there were could be other travel bubbles on the horizon.