Small and medium-sized businesses are relieved to have escaped the worst of the cuts in last night’s budget.
Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business Australia, told SmartCompany this morning most of the cuts to business did not impact SMEs.
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“We were relieved that we escaped the axe, but we are concerned that the deficit is very high and we know the impact that can have on confidence,” he says.
“The confidence of the small business community has shown to be the biggest concern for the future.”
Strong was pleased to see funding in the budget to assist small business in accessing the National Broadband Network.
“It’s important because it says to small business that we think this is important and we know that your time is important,” he says.
“We get the macro right quite often in these countries but you have to get the micro stuff right as well, which is the engagement.”
Strong also said cash for infrastructure spending in the budget would assist small business, but is hoping for more specific assistance for the sector leading up to the election.
“I am hoping that means there will be a big statement about small business leading up to the election which will deal with things that are not budget-related, like workplace relations and contract law.”
Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Australia area director David Barnes says many entrepreneurs are feeling ambivalent about the budget.
“There is a lot of anticipation and nervousness around the economy still, as a pre-election budget may or may not be around in September,” he told SmartCompany.
“For entrepreneurs, making any investment or commitment to this budget is really nonsensical, as we don’t know what is going to happen in September.”
Barnes says a lot of the measures in the budget affect big business and that will have an impact as big business makes up part of many entrepreneurs’ client base.
“Certainty for the innovation and investment fund is a big tick from our perspective, as it helps with growing online and other core technology investment,” he says.
“It’s good that the government hasn’t meddled with it.”
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry was more critical of the impact of yesterday’s budget on business.
Peter Anderson, chief executive of ACCI, said the budget did little to take cost pressure off the private sector, especially small business.
“It’s a budget of Band-Aids when the patient required targeted surgery to spending and the oxygen of cost relief to boost confidence,” he said in a statement.
Anderson wanted to see company tax relief, capital gains tax relief, a reduction in red tape and a cost offset to fund the July 1 hike in the superannuation levy in the budget.
“It is a missed opportunity because it keeps the nation shackled to more years of deficits and a high cost structure that erodes business competitiveness and innovation,” he said.