Budget commentary13 May 2009

Budget commentary - workforce implications Professor Victor Callan Professor Victor Callan believes that the budget announcements "continue to give attention to issues of nation building around the skilling of Australia's workforces. The budget will delight most of those in higher education that are producing degree and postgraduate qualified students to join our workforce." However, he says that "the budget is less obvious in its benefits to the related vocational education and training sector, especially around major skill needs in providing apprenticeships and skilled workers to support our building, construction, automotive and related industries. The budget in particular has followed through on previously promised infrastructure findings, and importantly, has begun to pick up on some of the key recommendations to come out of the Bradley review into higher education." Budget commentary - implications for small business Professor Peter Liesch It's a "Today is the tomorrow we were told to worry about yesterday, but all seems well" budget, with bold Treasury forecasts of not-too-distant hefty growth rates for the Australian economy instilling confidence in the Treasurer that this economy will re-bound rapidly from a modest decline over the next year, albeit with unemployment rising for some time yet. What's in it for Australian firms doing business overseas? Not much, although small firms will be pleased with the change from R&D taxation concessions to a taxation credit system which provides a 45% refundable credit for small firms with an annual turnover of less than $20 million. This is deemed to be equivalent to a taxation concession of 150%. Firms will receive a tax refund of 45% of their R&D spending at the time of lodging a taxation return. "Importantly, the refundable credit will be available to small companies in tax loss, with no limit on the level of R&D expenditure they undertake. This will provide a real boost to start-up companies in areas such as biotechnology and ICT," says Innovation Minister Kim Carr. In addition there is a 50% taxation break, up from 30%, for small businesses that purchase eligible assets and plant before the end of 2009. Some 5000 - 6000 small firms look to benefit from this scheme. Some of these small firms may go on to internationalise, providing that cadre of international firms so critical to Australia's export sector. An additional $50 million will be allocated to the Export Market Development Grants Scheme to further assist Australian firms enter markets overseas. Australian firms, large and small, doing business overseas will have to wait for the world economy to re-bound to return to the growth they not-so-long-ago enjoyed. The vagaries of doing business overseas remain in both the good times and in the bad. For further comment please contact Cathy Stacey on 0434 074 372
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