Responsible budget management, continued strong infrastructure investment and steps to lower business costs are key features of the 2019-20 Victorian Budget, according to the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI).
Following consistent advocacy by the VCCI, the budget raises the payroll tax threshold to $700,000 by 2022-23 and cuts the regional payroll tax rate to 1.21 per cent over the same period, cementing regional Victoria’s status as the most attractive place in Australia to do business.
Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Mark Stone AM said while these measures help lower business costs and grow jobs, it is disappointing that the full benefits are four years away.
“Even after the payroll tax relief takes effect, Victoria’s payroll tax threshold will still be well below levels existing in all other Australian states. More needs to be done sooner to ensure Victorian business does not lose its competitive edge,” Mr Stone said.
More positive, is the adoption of the Victorian Chamber’s recommendation to introduce a 50 per cent stamp duty concession for commercial and industrial property transactions in regional Victoria.
“This $70 million saving will provide a positive incentive for business investment and location in regional Victoria,” Mr Stone said.
Despite a decline in property tax revenue, the 2019-20 budget remains economically responsible with budget surpluses averaging $3.4 billion per annum over the forward estimates.
Mr Stone said the projected increase in net debt to 10 per cent of GDP by 2023 needs to be carefully managed to ensure Victoria retains its triple-A rating.
“It is equally important that recurrent spending be kept in check. Business wants to see the Government commit to keeping public sector wage growth in line with the private sector,” he said.
With infrastructure investment to average $13.4 billion over the next four years, the 2019-20 budget recognises the Victorian Chamber’s call for further strategic investment and funds vital projects such as the North East Link, Melbourne Airport Rail Link and the removal of 25 additional level crossings.
“These projects are needed to boost business productivity, grow Victorian trade and meet the demands of our fast-growing population. It is important that Victorian SMEs and their workforces are actively engaged in delivering these significant initiatives,” Mr Stone said.