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CCI outlines review hit list

THE Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA has named the Small Business Development Corporation, LandCorp and the state's eight port authorities as prime candidates for privatisation or review.

The CCI's pre-budget submission lists an array of government agencies and committees it believes need to be reviewed and possibly abolished or sold.

CCI believes that there are significant opportunities for the core functions of the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) to be absorbed by other agencies.

In particular, it says the SBDC's role in providing advice to businesses, and the attraction and sponsorship of business migrants and investors are functions that are currently also being provided by regional development commissions, the Department of State Development, and non-government organisations (including CCI).

In addition, it believes the State Migration Centre could operate as an independent body, or contracted out to the non-government sector.

The business lobby says LandCorp should revert to its original function of providing assistance to low to medium homebuyers and focusing on the release of land suitable for development by the private sector.

The Chemistry Centre is listed as one of the government agencies that CCI wants privatised.

The CCI also cited the success of other states in privatising their lotteries as providing support for privatisation of the Lotteries Commission.

Besides significant efficiency, CCI notes, the Government could save around $365.2 million in borrowings over the forward estimates by privatising its port authorities.

The CCI submission identified 33 government committees it believes are superfluous and, subject to review, need to be consolidated or abolished.

It said that limiting the number of government agencies would improve public sector efficiency, which in turn would free the government to focus its attention and funding on core areas of service delivery.

The 33 agencies and committees it wants reviewed include the Abalone Management Advisory Committee, the Beekeepers Consultative Committee, the Dental Prosthetists Advisory Committee, the Geographic Names Committee and the Premier's Water Foundation.

Other public reforms suggested by the CCI to the state include providing meaningful tax relief and reducing the burden of being the highest taxing state in Australia.

For this to occur, a one-off reduction in taxes of $1.2 billion would be required, an indication of WA's deterioration in tax competitiveness in recent years.

Increasing the payroll tax threshold exemption would help to stimulate economic activity and ease the burden on small and medium sized businesses.

Other government objectives could be to focus on reforms addressing regulatory barriers such as the complex approvals processes and restrictions on trading hours.

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