Government's $7.1M small business platform heads towards pilot

Government's $7.1M small business platform heads towards pilot

Platform aims to streamline central and local government service delivery

PM Jacinda Ardern

PM Jacinda Ardern

The Government's Business Connect platform, funded in the 2019 Budget, is expected to be in pilot by October.

The platform aims to integrate access to multiple services in one online space and cut out repetitive paperwork, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. 

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates potential benefits worth $300 million a year through reduced time and effort in compliance administration, faster processing of applications, less scope for errors, and increased business productivity. 

“We want to make the relationship easier with all levels of government. Business Connect will allow small businesses to interact seamlessly via a single portal," Ardern said.

"In time it will streamline the way central and local government services can be applied for, managed and tracked."

The platform won $7.1 million in funding in May's Budget. The pilot platform will initially trial services from three core agencies: the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment; and NZ Customs Service. 

“In time businesses will be able to apply for a range of permits, licences and consents, without having to repeat the same information and documentation over and over," Ardern said. 

The pilot agencies will allow the platform to be tested in a real world environment directly with businesses.

Business Connect will allow a business to log on to a customised dashboard from which they can update their information in one place and share that information across multiple agencies. They will also be able to track the status of their applications and be notified online of approvals and renewals

Other central and local government agencies will gradually come on board over two years.

Minister for small business Stuart Nash said businesses say they find public services complex to navigate and fragmented.

"Some small operators say it takes more time than it should to deal with paperwork," he said. "They say they often have to repeat the same information and feel there could be better co-ordination across government."

Datacom was selected to deliver the platform by MBIE and the first participating agencies using software from US-based Pega Systems.

Businesses will get a head start if they have registered for a New Zealand Business Number, which will be used to pre-populate their details on the platform, Nash said.

Central and local government agencies that join Business Connect will be able to follow common templates and rules in order to design and deliver more integrated digital services. 

"Some smaller local councils in particular will find this a very attractive and easy system to be part of," Nash said.

“New Zealand consistently ranks number one as the easiest country to do business. But there is still progress to be made." 

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