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Further support for virus-affected businesses

Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford.

Businesses affected by the coronavirus can access immediate government support after two further initiatives were approved by Cabinet yesterday, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford says.

“To help protect jobs, Cabinet yesterday agreed to provide an extra $4 million to bolster the Regional Business Partners programme to help businesses around the country impacted by COVID-19 with practical advice on issues such as payroll and liaising with Inland Revenue on tax payments.

“Cabinet also agreed to establish up to 16 rapid response Ministry of Social Development teams to assist with immediate needs such as helping move workers into other employment and referring those in need of further support to other government agencies.

“This is on top of $11 million provided last week to help Tourism NZ boost visitor numbers.”

Phil is today visiting Gisborne Tairāwhiti where the slowdown in the forestry industry has already affected up to 300 workers and their families.

Forestry is the largest sector in Gisborne, making up more than six per cent of region’s $2 billion GDP.

“Today I’ll be meeting with local forestry workers, contracting companies, social service providers and visiting Eastland Port to hear how they are being affected.

“As well as putting additional business support into Tairāwhiti, our Government’s looking at creative solutions such as using forestry workers to deal with our wilding pine issue in other parts of the country.

“The Provincial Growth Fund is funding local roading projects in the area and we’re also looking at whether this will provide an opportunity to help retrain workers into an area where there are skill shortages.

“Our Government’s economic response to COVID-19 is focused on protecting jobs and supporting impacted workers and businesses.

"Because of the underlying momentum in our economy, the Government’s surplus and low debt, we can bounce back to the strong level of growth seen before the coronavirus appeared."

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