A wide spread outbreak of COVID-19 presents a real and present threat to our economy. Citizens and businesses are already preparing for this possibility at a very localised level. NZRise members call for the New Zealand Government and large Corporates to actively support the wider economy through this time, which will go some way towards insulating us from the potential shock of trade losses. 

Financial Security for SME’s and their employees

It is SME’s who are most exposed in a financial crisis, many are unable to afford or unable to secure business interruption insurance – particularly after the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquake events. SME’s make up >95% of businesses in Aotearoa and as employers of 1-49 staff many Digital Technology focused businesses fall into this category. 

Both the Government and large Corporates can increase their contribution to supporting SME’s quite directly by procuring from them as customers during times of financial crisis. 

NZRise welcomes the announcement of $4m directed to support businesses who are suffering from losses due to COVID-19 – however we warn this will not go far enough to insulate the economy. 

How Government can directly support the Digital Technology Industry

A direct and effective intervention that would provide a significant injection to the local economy would be for Government to direct public service agencies, and the wider state services, to select local technology suppliers. This intervention would have the impact of injecting $100s millions if not $ billions back into the local economy and generating real value in export potential.

Government should additionally ensure agencies have the funding and resources available to continue on with their BAU work plans alongside any coronavirus response in order to avoid sudden shocks to suppliers. If changes are needed in terms of resourcing agencies should work with their suppliers to make the transition as smooth as possible. 

Working while in isolation

At this point in time, should all work places and schools in Aotearoa be shutdown with workers required to stay in isolation to avoid spread of COVID-19 much of the public service and many of those employed by companies supporting the public service – would be unable to work due to a lack of remote working technology in place, and the current practice of government demanding “bums on seats” vs remote working.  

Therefore it is essential that Government agencies provision remote access, and adopt virtual team based working methods so that both Government employees and the employees of supplier companies can continue to work throughout a health crisis. 

These measures would not only ensure the financial security of those companies and their employees, lower the burden of cost on the public service for standing down staff or ending contracts, they would also ensure the tax take is not impacted as locally owned companies – who pay their share of taxes – continue to operate. 

Any questions please contact Victoria MacLennan for NZRise by email [email protected]

NZRise is about strengthening the NZ-owned digital technology sector.

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