NZ introduces duty relief for cyclone-affected businesses

Wellington, Mar 27 (IANS): New Zealand Customs will offer payment plans and remit late payment penalties for businesses impacted by cyclone Gabrielle, Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri said on Monday.

The cyclone, with a considerable scale of damage, killed 11 people in the North Island, reports Xinhua news agency.

"This is part of the government's ongoing commitment to assist economic recovery in the regions," Whaitiri said in a statement.

The cabinet has approved the declaration of Cyclone Gabrielle and other recent extreme weather as an emergency under the Customs and Excise Act 2018.

This means Customs can further support the government's response efforts by allowing duty payers who agree to payment plans relief from interest or penalties, Whaitiri said.

Damage from recent extreme weather events has affected many people and businesses, especially in the Gisborne and Hawke's Bay regions, including producers of wine and beer, the Minister said, adding that this customs initiative offers some relief to these affected businesses to help with their recovery.

"It will be a long road, with many vineyards and breweries facing extensive damage," Whaitiri added.

Meanwhile, the government introduced the Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Legislation Bill on Monday to further support the recovery and rebuild from the cyclone.

The government learned from experiences following the Canterbury and Kaikoura earthquakes in 2011 and 2016, respectively, that it will take some time before they completely understand the consequences of the damage caused.

This bill provides the flexibility necessary to allow communities and local government, supported by the government, to respond quickly to issues that occur during recovery efforts without needing to anticipate every power or statutory provision that may need to be amended, said Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty.



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