Economy

Bruce Billson welcomes proposal to do away with BAS statements in SME deregulation plan

Eloise Keating /

Small Business Minister Bruce Billson has welcomed an 11-point deregulation plan for SMEs from the National Australia Bank which calls for the abolition of Business Activity Statements.

Speaking to SmartCompany after receiving the plan this morning, Billson says it is “encouraging” to see recommendations from NAB which reinforce the federal government’s agenda to continue to ease the red tape burden on small and medium-sized companies.

“It’s a really positive piece of work that I was happy to receive this morning,” Billson said of the report.

“What’s really encouraging is that it is so closely aligned with the government’s own deregulation agenda.”

Among the key recommendations in the NAB report is a proposal to automate BAS and income tax returns for SMEs.

“Anyone who has run a small business understands only too well the pressure of complying with monthly BAS and annual income tax returns,” NAB group executive of business banking Angela Mentis said in a statement.

“If the government and banks works together, we could make real inroads into automating GST and income tax payments using emerging technology for small business, eliminating BAS and income tax returns.”

Billson says the government has been listening to the concerns of SMEs who say their reporting requirements are too onerous, and that’s why the government has already “reduced by 400,000 the number of business who have to complete BAS or Pay-As-You-Go when there is no real purpose in doing so”.

Billson says further work to “simplify and streamline” reporting requirements for SMEs, starting with the government’s own shift to being “digital by default and very much e-enabled”.

“I am part of the e-government taskforce which is trying to embrace the potential of technology and digital platforms to join-up the work of government, so it is simpler and easier to interact with from a business point of view.”

Billson says the implementation of Standard Business Reporting is part of this agenda, as is ensuring regulatory requirements on how small businesses operate are “the right size and necessary”.

NAB has also called on the government to “review the remit and scope of regulators” in Australia and “for governments to reduce compliance costs for SMEs and review taxes”. The bank would also like to see the country celebrate a National Small Business Day, an idea Billson says he is “a huge fan” of.

“This was a topic of discussion when I met with the state and territory small business ministers in Perth recently,” Billson says.

“There are a number of good state-based initiatives that run for a week or a fortnight and we spoke about getting some alignment of dates to make it a national, consistent celebration.”

Looking ahead to the new year, Billson says he will hit the ground running in 2015.

“Our work around becoming digital by default and e-government opportunities is a key priority for me in the new year,” he says.

“We also got our unfair contract terms election commitment to implement and the very positive changes around employee share schemes and crowdsourced equity.”

“The Harper Review will be concluding so I will need to work through those recommendations, and the new Food and Grocery code and the Automotive Industries’ code of practice are being finalised.”

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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