06/08/2008 - 22:00

Help sought for gas fallout

06/08/2008 - 22:00

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Business has asked for temporary tax relief and sought a bigger role for the Small Business Development Corporation as the key elements of an assistance package in the wake of the Varanus Island gas crisis.

Help sought for gas fallout

Business has asked for temporary tax relief and sought a bigger role for the Small Business Development Corporation as the key elements of an assistance package in the wake of the Varanus Island gas crisis.

The WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry said its requests - which involve state and federal governments - had been devised through research of previous disaster relief efforts, such as Longford in Victoria, and would cost very little.

In cases where businesses were suffering hardship as a result of crisis, CCIWA believes relief strategies should include postponement of the federally administered GST payments; delay or postponement of state land and payroll taxes; and the promotion of assistance from the state's SBDC.

"This is not subsidies or bailouts, it is simply postponing what is happening at the moment," a CCIWA spokesman said.

"It is an administrative arrangement to allow some business to postpone paying these taxes."

CCIWA said it had raised its proposals with premier Alan Carpenter last month and remained in discussions with the state government.

A spokesperson for the SBDC said it had been involved in discussions regarding assistance for business since the gas crisis erupted two months ago and put in place an emergency advisory service. It has also been involved in surveying small business via its Ready Response Network of 2,000 members.

Partial gas production at Varanus Island was expected to resume this week, the first of a three phase ramp-up to full output which is expected to be staggered through until December.

Just how hard business has been hit is hard to gauge. CCIWA estimates $2.4 billion in turnover has been lost already, with a figure of $6 billion in turnover loss touted as the expected full impact.

The effect has been disproportional, though, with some businesses badly caught while others have shifted energy sources or reduced output and brought forward scheduled maintenance.

Many businesses have made cosmetic cuts, while the general population reduced gas usage by as much as 10 per cent in the first few weeks before returning to more usual levels.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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