Road Transport Forum News

 
Downturn in trucking foretells impact of coronavirus

Downturn in trucking foretells impact of coronavirus

Road Transport Forum News

 May 2020    RTF News

The Road Transport Forum first wrote to the Government way back at the beginning of February to warn that the economic impacts of the coronavirus were likely to be serious.

At that stage the international focus was on China and the spread of the virus there, but RTF could see that it was starting to impact trucking businesses quite seriously here too.

Even then, businesses were feeling the squeeze – with the log transport sector, among others, really coming under pressure as the global forestry supply chain was one of the first to break down.

Now that the virus has found its way to our shores and the health response is in full swing, the economic downturn has reached far and wide.

"Trucking has always been an early economic barometer and as such, RTF requested that Government ministers help alleviate the situation by removing benefit stand-down periods for those workers being stood down, as well as provide tax breaks for those operators and contractors struggling to meet upcoming tax payments," says RTF chief executive Nick Leggett.

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The Road Transport Forum first wrote to the Government way back at the beginning of February to warn that the economic impacts of the coronavirus were likely to be serious.
At that stage the international focus was on China and the spread of the virus there, but RTF could see that it was starting to impact trucking businesses quite seriously here too.
Even then, businesses were feeling the squeeze – with the log transport sector, among others, really coming under pressure as the global forestry supply chain was one of the first to break down.
Now that the virus has found its way to our shores and the health response is in full swing, the economic downturn has reached far and wide.
"Trucking has always been an early economic barometer and as such, RTF requested that Government ministers help alleviate the situation by removing benefit stand-down periods for those workers being stood down, as well as provide tax breaks for those operators and contractors struggling to meet upcoming tax payments," says RTF chief executive Nick Leggett.
"From a very early stage the health response by government has been exemplary. Ministry of Health, DHBs and Customs leapt into action pretty quickly. The strict travel restrictions were unquestionably the right thing to do, the Prime Minister's public messaging has been spot-on and there is plenty of sensible practical advice for a lot of worried people out there.
"The testing and screening regimes are doing a good job at slowing the virus' spread in New Zealand, which is so important if our health system is to properly cope.
"Unfortunately, the economic response has not been quite so flash," says Leggett: "Government was incredibly slow in developing its business support package and, even once it was announced in early March, there were absolutely no details for another week.
"A week can be the difference between a business withstanding the downturn.....and having to lay off all its staff. For many operators the package was too late and, considering how early the Government was warned of the impending economic downturn and the resulting job losses, the delay was extremely disappointing.
"RTF is doing all it can to help. We continue to push ministers and government officials to consider greater relief for the industry, as the reality is that this will not be a short-lived experience.
"I urge all operators to keep a daily watch on the dedicated page on the RTF website (rtfnz.co.nz/covid-19/) that includes up-to-date information on how to manage the significant health and business risks of the virus. The page has advice on what to do to manage the risk in the workplace, what to do in the event of a suspected infection and where to go to access the various aspects of the government's business support package.
"We have included links to World Health Organisation information and the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, which has guidance specifically for truckers around pandemics and general precautions to limit disease spread.
"A good place to also visit is the business.govt.nz website. This is regularly updated with advice for businesses, including what you need to know with regards to the government support package and the tax relief available, as well as employers' obligations when it comes to health and safety," says Leggett.


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