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A week in advocacy 

RMA replacement promising
A proposal to replace the Resource Management Act could be good for business development: it would remove the RMA’s ‘hierarchy’ that favours environmental factors over development proposals, which has restricted past development.  And it would require better Plans, with a requirement for councils to specify their requirements in Plans rather than in individual consents, to allow more certainty for development.  Other parts of the proposal - aimed at increasing land supply and infrastructure for development - deserve scrutiny BusinessNZ says.

Levies to fund infrastructure
A Bill to levy ratepayers for infrastructure development passed its final reading last week.  The Bill aims to help councils overcome problems funding new infrastructure.  The new law will allow ratepayers in a certain area to be levied over and above their rates payments, to provide funds for building or upgrading infrastructure in that area.  The annual levy, for up to 50 years, will be imposed on business as well as domestic ratepayers.

Instructions for development
Other moves to promote development also arrived this week.  A new National Policy Statement on Urban Development will apply to RMA consenting decisions immediately.  It instructs councils in major cities to allow building heights of at least 6 storeys in key areas, while other councils will have to ensure enough land supply to meet projected demand.  Councils will not be able to set minimum car parking requirements for properties and will be required to be responsive to proposals for new development. 

Rent disputes continue
Covid rent disputes continue - the Franchise Association says franchise holders are being hounded for rent from the lockdown period.  82% of 985 businesses surveyed say they are having difficulty getting agreement with landlords over rents payable.  During lockdown other businesses called for a ban on evictions for non-payment of rent, while landlords sought help for mortgage payments.  The Govt temporarily froze rents and banned evictions for residential but not commercial tenancies, and an arbitration system for commercial rent disputes has not yet materialised. 

Call for new approach to commercial rents
Covid-related rent issues are common overseas too.  In the US retailers are suing landlords and vice versa, while residential renters are facing mass evictions with the Covid eviction moratorium expiring last week.  Retailers in the UK, Europe are calling for a new approach to commercial rents in the wake of the Covid crisis, including variable rents, where the level of rent is tied to how much turnover a business generates.

Recovery plan paramount
“I bet nobody here is doing business like before,” Business Central’s John Milford said yesterday, challenging Hutt Valley businesses to rework business systems in the wake of the Covid crisis.  A Covid recovery plan was essential, with key actions including increased contact with customers and staff, sharp focus on cashflow, marketing hard, and developing new products and services, he told the Business Central members' briefing.

National's policy for start-ups
National’s BusinessStart policy for small business start-ups would give grants of $10,000 and allow people to take $20,000 out of their KiwiSaver to start a business.   The scheme would lift some tax thresholds, provide free mentoring, and provide further grants of $10,000 for taking on a permanent employee.  Tax credits for the taxed portion of redundancy payments would be available for a new business to pay future GST or provisional tax.  


Business Update is a weekly update of activity and advocacy by the BusinessNZ Network

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