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Government reduces red tape, boosts hope for SMEs

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A national register of business names is on the table at meetings between Treasurer Wayne Swan and his state counterparts today, in an effort to reduce red tape for SMEs. The meetings are part of the Rudd Government’s efforts to create a “seamless nationa

A national register of business names is on the table at meetings between Treasurer Wayne Swan and his state counterparts today, in an effort to reduce red tape for SMEs. The meetings are part of the Rudd Government’s efforts to create a “seamless national economy,” and will be backed by a $500 million reform payment.

A further 27 areas of business deregulation are also expected to be discussed over today and tomorrow, such as a national trade qualifications register. The $500 million will be divided among the states to cover fees and charges for establishing new systems if they remove existing regulations.

Federal Small Business Minister Craig Emerson told Parliament yesterday the meetings are part of the Government’s attempt to end “rail gauge economics” between the states and territories.

Prime Minister Rudd and Emerson announced plans for a “seamless national economy” in April. The Business Council of Australia urged the Government to remove burdensome regulations during the 2020 summit.

The two released a statement last month announcing plans for a national register of business names.

“To register a business name nationally at present, businesses have to apply separately in eight states and territories and pay a fee eight times at a total cost of around $900,” Rudd says. “COAG agreed it was absurd in the 21st century for businesses to have to go through such duplicated processes.”

“With the internet, more and more small businesses are operating in more than one state or territory,” Emerson says. “The new system will be much cheaper and quicker, enabling a single registration for a single fee.”

Today’s meetings will also include an offer of $7.75 billion in heath funding, which will include funds for workforce training.

But despite calls for more deregulation, Rudd says cutting the GST to 5% as proposed by former Coles Myer chairman Solomon Lew is not an option. “We have no plans of that nature,” told Fairfax radio.

Rudd also rejected claims the Government should introduced a buy-local program to help SMEs. “If every country around the world started to put up barriers about where they bought stuff, then the materials that we sell to foreign countries for use by foreign governments would start to be penalised,” he says.

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