DESPITE improvements in private investment for this year’s State Budget, the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has hit out at the Bligh government for its ‘straight jacket’ over business.
CCIQ president David Goodwin (pictured) says the State Budget 2010-11 is more fiscally disciplined than its predecessor, but regulation and tax reductions were both disappointingly absent.
“My view of the budget is that the bottom line has improved dramatically, and that’s come on the back of businesses doing what they do best, but it’s also come from the fuel levy and registration fees,” he says.
“They’ve got a straight jacket around business, but reduction is needed in regulation and taxes, specifically land tax and payroll tax. We’re seeing Victoria and New South Wales making moves on those fronts but that’s not happening in Queensland.”
But Treasurer Andrew Fraser says Queensland has the lowest payroll tax in the country.
“Already, Queensland can boast the lowest payroll tax rate in the nation of 4.75 per cent, and the highest threshold of the mainland states of $1 million,” he says.
“Queensland’s tax competitiveness is strong. In 2010-11, Queensland’s taxation per person will be over $400 less than the national average.”
Apprentices and trainees will be exempt from payroll tax, but Goodwin says this is nothing new.
“It will certainly be extended but in reality it’s small cheese,” he says.
He hopes that once the government gets its spending in order it will be buoyed into cutting its hold over business.
“You’re going to gain more taking a smaller share of a larger pie than by taking a larger piece of the same pie,” he says.
The budget’s unemployment figures were lower than forecast last year, while the rate is expected to fall by 0.5 percentage points to 5.25 per cent this year.
“You need to remember that when we see jobs growth the emphasis needs to be that those jobs are created by businesses, sometimes despite the government.”
The budget will roll out a $17.1 billion capital works program to support 106,000 jobs, according to Fraser.
“Our strategy to maintain a massive building program throughout the global financial crisis has seen us create jobs for nine months straight,” he says.
“As the economy stabilises, now is not the time to pull back on that investment, and put Queensland jobs at risk.
“Around 2000 people make Queensland their home each week – that’s why we’re continuing to deliver projects like the Port of Brisbane Motorway that will not only help motorists have a smoother journey, but a safer one too.”
The budget recorded a significant increase in private investment, from -9.25 per cent in 2009-10 to 7 per cent in 2010-11.
Net exports fell from 2.25 per cent to -0.5 per cent, likely due to a high Australian dollar until recently.
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