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SMEs hope for gender equity and energy focus in budget

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are hoping for relief and support from the Australian government in the upcoming budget. 

Chris Dahl, Co-CEO of Pin Payments, says they rely heavily on the right economic conditions and funding to survive and seek immediate relief to help businesses juggle rising costs.

Small businesses have experienced a challenging year with inflation, tech layoffs, and diminishing budgets. The latest interest rate rise by the RBA from 3.6 to 3.85% per cent, after the pause last month, will undoubtedly put more pressure on business owners whose overall financial position will continue to be stretched. Thomas Fu, Founder and Executive Director of Motor Culture Australia, says that supporters of the small business community hope to see some much-needed relief in next week’s budget.

The Treasurer’s pre-budget announcement of $20,000 for SMEs to install solar panels has been met with mixed reactions. Dahl says that while it may bring savings off energy bills in the long term, immediate relief is required right now. He adds that this incentive is dependent on a hefty outlay upfront by SMEs, who may need more cash to put towards solar energy right now.

On the other hand, Fu believes that this energy boost shows that the government is attempting to tackle the climate crisis by creating policies which cut emissions and energy bills. However, he adds that this incentive is reliant on businesses having a significant amount of disposable cash to spend on an investment in solar and other energy-related equipment.

Regarding digital skills, Dahl notes that ‘The Small Business Technology Investment Boost’ and ‘The Small Business Skills and Training Boost’ introduced by the Morrison government were supposed to assist with depreciating assets and business expenses. However, neither policy has even passed Parliament.

Fu adds that investment in digital tools and training for small businesses is absolutely essential in today’s digital economy for businesses to both survive and pursue growth and expansion opportunities. They both hope to see incentives and policies in this budget that actually come to fruition and provide businesses with support surrounding increased digitalisation, skills training, and investment in better technology and ideas.

Regarding training, skills, and education, both Dahl and Fu agree that the government should prioritise jobs, skills gaps, and training for young Australians. Dahl notes that the tech industry is still facing a massive shortage of critical jobs, with high tech being one of those.

Fu says that as a young entrepreneurial business, gender equality is important to them in business and as an intrinsic policy. They want to see the values of hiring the right person for the right job regardless of age, sex, race, or gender supported by the government and encouraged for other businesses whose policies may be behind the times.

Dahl also believes that applying downward pressure on the fees businesses pay to process transactions has been on the Reserve Bank’s radar for a number of years. He notes that the introduction of both PayTo and Least Cost Routing to the domestic payments network was expected to bring some relief to the number of transaction fees paid by merchants, but there have been delays in their implementation in the industry. They both hope to see policies or statements to encourage further advancement of this.

Overall, the SME community hopes that the government will take their struggles seriously and provide them with the support they need to survive and thrive.

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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