Quake-hit businesses vow to keep pressure on Govt

10:17 pm on 30 November 2010

Businesses struggling after the Canterbury earthquake are vowing to keep up the pressure on the Government for more assistance.

Small enterprises say revenue is down by as much as 60% since the 7.1 magnitude quake on 4 September and some businesspeople say their insurers are refusing to cover that level of loss.

On Monday, the Government committed another $600,000 to helping businesses get back on their feet. The money would go towards funding business recovery co-ordinators and retail promotion.

However, Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce had bid for an assistance package worth $3.6 million that would have included cash grants to companies.

Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend says he respects the Government's decision, but still believes there is a need for cash assistance and will try again.

The Labour Party has called the Government's response unacceptable, but Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee disagrees.

"I think the issue here is that there are a large number of businesses in Christchurch City who have taken appropriate cover, who have got the sort of business interruption insurance that you'd expect.

"It would be somewhat unfair to them to suddenly cover all of those people who didn't make those provisions."

Mr Brownlee says businesses have been supported with substantial wage subsidies for a number of weeks.

But Labour's earthquake recovery spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove says the Government is missing the point when it claims an assistance package would set a dangerous precedent, as the quake is a once-in-a-generation disaster.

Firms 'need payout to survive'

Owners of small businesses in Christchurch say they need a major cash injection from central and local government if they are to survive the effects of the quake.

The leader of the group, Matthew Carpenter, points out the Government has approved payouts in the cases of South Canterbury Finance, the kiwifruit industry and the Hobbit films, and should be willing to do the same for small businesses in Christchurch.

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker says $100,000 of the government funding announced on Monday will be used for advertising to encourage shoppers back into the central city.

Mr Parker says he will ask the council to match the advertising funding dollar-for-dollar when it meets on Thursday.