THE Federal Government can avoid a 'hard landing' in the recovery phases from the COVID pandemic by developing a post-lockdown business support strategy, according to professional accounting body, CPA Australia.
“New national arrangements on COVID-19 business supports are a positive development,” CPA Australia CEO Andrew Hunter said.
“The missing piece is what happens once a lockdown ends. The impact on businesses doesn’t stop the moment a government calls time on a lockdown. If support is withdrawn immediately, many businesses may experience a damaging hard landing.
“By tapering business support for a couple of weeks post-lockdown, the government can soften the negative effects of withdrawing support.”
CPA Australia is calling for a national post-lockdown business support strategy, involving a combination of Commonwealth and state or territory supports for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).
“We’ve participated in hundreds of discussions with governments, industry and members since the pandemic began," Mr Hunter said. "We’ve heard countless stories of lockdown hardship from business owners.
“Based on our experience, a coordinated national approach, including direct and indirect supports, makes a big difference to businesses’ success after an extended lockdown.
Our view is that a successful strategy will involve five elements delivered in the period immediately post-lockdown."
Mr Hunter named the five strategies as: Tapered support for SMEs with eligibility based on decline in turnover; Deferral of Commonwealth and state or territory SME revenue collection; A moratorium on Commonwealth and state or territory compliance activity, such as ATO debt collection; Consumer incentives, such as dining, travel and accommodation vouchers; and Financial assistance for businesses to seek professional advice.
"We urge the Federal Government to discuss a post-lockdown business support strategy at the next National Cabinet meeting," Mr Hunter said.
“If the government takes the initiative immediately, we could have a strategy in place for when current lockdowns end, and for any future lockdowns.
“We acknowledge that this will require a high level of coordination between different levels of government, but we don’t think that’s too much for Australians to expect.”