Friday, 20 March 2020
ACT stimulus welcome, but more will be needed says Canberra Business Chamber
The Canberra Business Chamber has welcomed the ACT Government’s announcement of a $137 million dollar stimulus package for the local economy. It has however warned that more stimulus measures may need to be fast tracked to support businesses and protect jobs.
“The ACT private sector provides almost two thirds of Canberra’s jobs,” said Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt. “Many businesses have been suffering from a severe downturn in trade since last December. Bushfires, smoke pollution and hailstorms have already taken a heavy toll economically and on mental health”.
A meeting of the Chamber’s Kindred members, including ACT industry and community groups, was convened on Wednesday 18 March 2020. “Our industry body and community group members made it clear that the impact of COVID-19 is accelerating rapidly, with new challenges facing their members each day,” said Mr. Catt.
The Chamber welcomed initiatives such as the deferral of payroll tax, rebates on commercial rates and targeted support for sectors such as hospitality, and believes these will offer some much-needed relief. But with business and community confidence at an all-time low, more support may be urgently needed.
“Businesses are telling the Chamber they need immediate financial support to survive, or they’ll have no choice but to lay off staff or even close down,” Mr. Catt said. “The initial stimulus package is welcome and will help the local economy, but the reality is many small businesses have been struggling for months and they are desperately looking for immediate and direct financial assistance”.
Mr. Catt concluded by saying, “We appreciate the steps the ACT Government has taken to engage with the business sector in developing this initial support package. The Chamber and the business community will continue to work with government so we can respond swiftly and as needed over what will be challenging weeks and months ahead”.