Small business summit fails to deliver

Troubled small businesses hoping for some good news from the Small Business Summit held on Friday will be disappointed.

Troubled small businesses hoping for some good news from the Small Business Summit held on Friday will be disappointed.

There were no big announcements at the summit, organised by COSBOA and Commerce Queensland. Instead the Government gave $4 million more to enterprise centres, pledged to pay small business within 30 days or pay penalties, and reminded small business that the tax office has tax management plans available.

These measures were designed to assist business cashflow, says Prime Minister Keven Rudd, who attended along with Treasurer Wayne Swan and Small Business Minister Craig Emerson.

Rudd also claims businesses will benefit from extra money given to consumers under the Government’s $10.4 billion stimulus package and that the financial system is strong.

“The small business support and advice builds on the Government’s measures to strengthen the financial system by guaranteeing all deposits from all depositors in Australian banks, building societies and credit unions and for wholesale funding arrangements for Australia’s banks,” he says.

But small business participants and experts were disappointed there were not more concrete measures announced.

COSBOA chief executive Jonathon Brake says there were some interesting initiatives.

Brake says the ongoing dialogue is going to be extremely important, which will ensure Government is kept up-to-date with what small businesses are wanting to hear.

But he says there wasn’t really any new announcements.

Emerson says the message the Government was keen to get across was that the tax office is sensitive to the needs of small business in this economic environment, and they don’t desire companies to go to the wall when they have a previous good record.

He says that small businesses have been telling him that while there are some industries that are feeling the pressure, others are fearing the consequences of the financial meltdown for their businesses. “However in many cases it has not yet arrived.

“The summit was very informative for the Government and of real value to the small busienss community,” he says.

One participant, SmartCompany blogger Jason Gehrke says the meeting was “a lost opportunity”.

He says the opportunity to ask questions was a bit limited and it was too short. “It could have made it more effective for them if they were serious about listening to the concerns of small business.”

Opposition small business spokesman Steve Ciobo slammed the summit as meaningless and tokenistic at a time that small business needed action at lower their operating costs. “Revenue is going down and operating costs are going up,” he says.

He says the Government should focus on measures to improve access to credit for small business. “That would be at the epicenter of what the Coalition would look at,” he says.

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