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Source: Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce

Yesterday’s Government announcement regarding a rule change that should enable the release of critical building materials stuck in Auckland provides relief for building and construction businesses in the South Island, says Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson.
Ministers have decided to make changes to the Health Order to allow the manufacturer of some building products to resume in Auckland under Alert Level 4; plasterboard, gypsum plaster, coated roofing steel and insulation. The change would enable selected manufacturers to return to work over 48 hours from yesterday.
Ms Watson says this is a positive example of how important it is for Government to listen to and work with sectors to see how they might be able to resume operations safely, in adherence to public health guidelines.
“It is really positive to see that the Government has been listening to the concerns and challenges raised by local businesses, to find a way to free up the supply of goods in this sector to help resume some level of operations.
“At The Chamber, we have been working with Chamber members to understand specific situations to be able to advocate on the supply chain issue with Government officials and find a way to help some of the major distribution centres clear the backlog and meet demand as we start opening up more of our economy outside of Auckland.
“With 72% of businesses saying that their business was experiencing supply chain delays due to alert levels and or port backlogs, the issue was one of significance that needed a solution. We are pleased that the Government has listened and will be enabling parts of that supply chain to open safely to the rest of New Zealand.”
Ms Watson says she is hopeful that this signals a growing appetite by Government to work with key sectors to optimise operations.
“While this provides a degree of relief for some businesses in the building and construction sector, there are other key sectors that will need to be addressed moving forward including many of our manufacturing exporters who rely on getting componentry out of Auckland to complete their products for export. Businesses need to prepare and position themselves now to make the most of the opportunities around pent up demand that we saw following the de-escalation of alert levels in 2020.
“We also know that small businesses don’t generally carry a lot of stock due to limited cashflow and rely on just in time ordering, so prolonged current supply chain and logistical issues could potentially be another blow for those businesses and compromise their ability to get back up and running quickly as we move down the alert levels.
“We will continue to raise the issues experienced by our members and wider business community and work with Government to look at how we can maximise operational capacity for businesses within each alert level.”
A fully funded COVID-19 Business Helpline service is available for all businesses in Aotearoa New Zealand. In the South Island, the phone number is 0800 50 50 96.