Franchise ceo slams Government's ineffective support for small business

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World Franchise Council co-chair and CEO of pool and spa franchise company PoolWerx, John O’Brien, claims the Government support package for small business will have little impact. The Government’s proposals were revealed at the Small Business Summit in Brisbane by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on 24 October 2008.

Knowing that small business is the first to feel the effects of a financial downturn, Rudd said he would work to minimise the impact of today's global economic crisis, offering individual tax management plans, $4 million for advisory centres and guarantees of on-time payments for businesses that deal with government departments.

O’Brien states that small business employs 60 per cent of the Australian work force, while the franchising sector comprises a third of small business. However, he feels that this has been overlooked by the Government and that their offers will have little effect.

“The engine room of the economy is not getting any preferential treatment and as a representative of the franchising industry, one of the biggest contributors to employment and small business in Australia, I feel it is my duty to rally more support.”

Instead of helping small business, O’Brien in fact believes that the Government is hindering it.

“In my opinion small business has become the tax collector for the Government through GST and payroll tax. A solid and truly beneficial measure would be to reduce tax levels, particularly payroll tax. The thresholds should be increased and rates lowered further.”

Speaking as a business owner himself, O’Brien claimed, “Just in my business, if this was able to be achieved, we would be able to afford to hire up to two more people just at head office. Small business is the conduit for achieving steady employment rates and you can imagine the effect if such a measure was implemented.”

Relaxing immigration requirements would also enable further business growth according to O’Brien.

“Small business thrives through immigration, which is particularly evident in the franchising sector. It drives employment, improves competition and encourages demand.”

However, he feels there are flaws in the current criteria that hinder small business benefiting from potential immigration. “For example the average age of our franchisees is 50 but many visa requirements state a person must be under 45. The asset requirement can also be prohibitive to entry to the country but is no reflection on the potential of the candidate to run a successful business here.”

O’Brien also feels that there are too many restrictions and loop holes for small business to get through in order to start up. “The red tape, insurance and quality assurance measures that a business needs to meet to qualify as a Government supplier is also prohibitive for many small business. Perhaps if this was reviewed and simplified, more small business could benefit from the $30 billion the Government spends on goods and services.”

Although O’Brien applauds the Government for taking time to listen, he feels that realistic offers need to be made to see any real results.

In a final statement, O’Brien said, in short, “All small business really wants from the Government is for them to get out of our pockets and get out of our way. Let us do what we do best - support and bolster the Australian economy.”

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