Small business demands have been encapsulated in a highly publicised campaign costing millions as the sector, which employs around 60% of the country’s workforce, tries to make itself heard in the run up to the September election. Small business groups across the country have joined forces to compete with other industries that are finding the economic conditions tough, like mining and automation.
Small business currently employs in the region of 7 million people and has been deemed the “engine” of the economy. Despite this small business operators feel as though their needs are being overlooked and the purpose of the campaign is not only to make its needs heard but also to instate itself as a priority group when voters head to the polls for the election.
According to a representative from Regus, small business owners are the ones taking real and significant risks with their financial and family commitments in order to become self-sustainable. This, of course, contributes to the local economy and the wellbeing of local communities by creating jobs and generating more streams of revenue. It also makes them less dependent on the state.
Regardless of who wins the election small business owners, industry bodies and activists want to ensure they are made well aware of the commitments being given by the small business community and for credit to be given where it is due.
Small business considers itself the backbone of the economy and has four major concerns that the campaign seeks to address. First on the agenda is loosening bureaucracy and red tape to make conducting business easier and more commerce friendly. It also seeks to bring about tax relief and employment reform and for government to ensure that better infrastructure is made available for smaller operators.
The Small Business Minister has come out to address some of the concerns that have been raised and clarified the federal government’s position on this sector which employs about a third of the population. He says the large percentage of locals employed in the small business sector is testament to the country’s entrepreneurial spirit to try new things out in business. This entrepreneurialism translates into over more than 2.1 million small businesses that are actively trading and more than 4.8 million who are taking the reins in the sector. Small business also contributes 34% of value to the private sector.
According to the minister steps are being put in place to ensure the sector stays innovative and agile. He says the government is committed to providing competitive markets, to ensuring that red tape does not inhibit progress and to providing support, training and advice to assist small business operators.
The government is also committed to helping businesses manage cash flow better at a time when business owners are downsizing their operations and experimenting with remote and virtual offices to keep their overheads manageable. Initiatives like boosting the asset tax write-off threshold have been started to help achieve this. This initiative will have an estimated value of $1 billion by 2013/2014 for small businesses around the country. Under the reforms small operators are entitled to write off asset purchases less than $6,500 and to depreciate certain assets to improve their cash flow.
From the start of the 2012/2013 tax season businesses are also entitled to carry back a maximum of $1 million in losses to qualify for a refund on the taxes they paid during the previous year. The purpose of this is to offer support for small businesses during economically challenging times. In addition, lifting the tax threshold from $6,000 to $18,200 and then taking it to $19,400 from July 2015 will provide relief for owners and employees of small businesses.
The government has also taken a more considerate approach to payments by ensuring that 97% of invoices generated by the small business sector are paid within 30 days.
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