This week the government announced plans to create a digital platform that will help small businesses interact with multiple government agencies, an announcement that has been welcomed by many small businesses throughout the country.
The $7.1 million platform will be called Business Connect, with the aim of integrating multiple services throughout one digital platform.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the platform will remove repetitive paperwork and enable businesses and government agencies to work together, smarter.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) estimates $300 million savings in areas such as reduced time and effort in compliance administration, faster processing of applications, less scope for errors, and increased business productivity.
While the platform is primarily aimed at small businesses, it will also cater to startups, limited liability companies, sole traders, trusts, partnerships, contractors, tradespeople, and self-employed.
“The pilot platform is expected to be available from October and will initially trial services from three core agencies: The Ministry for Primary Industries, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment; and NZ Customs Service,” she adds.
The pilot agencies will allow the platform to be tested directly with businesses in the real world, with the aim of onboarding more government agencies over two years.
Minister for Small Business Stuart Nash explains that many small businesses find public services hard to navigate and that they suffer from a lack of coordination. He says Business Connect will allow a business to log on to a customised dashboard.
“They can update their information in one place and share that information across multiple agencies. They will be able to track the status of their applications and be notified online of approvals and renewals.
“Businesses will get a head start if they have registered for a New Zealand Business Number, which will be used to pre-populate their details on the platform.
“In time businesses will be able to apply for a range of permits, licences and consents, without having to repeat the same information and documentation over and over. Examples could include services that help make it easier to comply with food safety regulations,” adds Ardern.
“We want to make the relationship easier with all levels of government. Business Connect will allow small businesses to interact seamlessly via a single portal. In time it will streamline the way central and local government services can be applied for, managed and tracked,” says Ardern.
“Our priorities in this year's Budget are to create opportunities for productive businesses and to support them to thrive in the digital age, through innovation. The new Business Connect platform will support businesses wherever they are in New Zealand.
Commenting on the government's announcement, Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Business Central chief John Milford says anything that reduces bureaucracy is a good thing for small businesses.
"They are constantly telling us in our surveys that the cost and time they spend on compliance is one of the main barriers they face so I'm anticipating this platform will be popular,” says Milford.
"Being able to apply for, manage, track and access services from government agencies, and to apply for permits, licences and consents and be notified online of approvals and renewals without repeating the same information and documentation will make a big difference, particularly to companies with small staff.
"I encourage businesses to register for a New Zealand Business Number so they get their details on the platform ahead of the expected launch in October."