Kaikoura earthquake: Businesses get $7.5m support package

Tourism is a key industry for the Kaikoura region (Getty)
Tourism is a key industry for the Kaikoura region (Getty)

Businesses in and around Kaikoura which have been seriously impacted by Monday's earthquake can apply for a government support package.

The $7.5 million scheme is available to companies with fewer than 20 employees and will initially last for eight weeks.

It's available to businesses in Kaikoura, Cheviot, Waiau, Rotherham, Mt Lyford and Ward, which face a dramatic drop in turnover as a direct result of the earthquakes and the closure of State Highway One (SH1).

Companies which meet the criteria will be given $500 per week for full-time workers and $300 per week for part-timers. It will be backdated to Monday.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says it's imperative the subsidy kicks in straight away.

"It is clear that if we don't move quickly, much of the employment in the area will dry up," he says.

The scheme will be administered by the Ministry of Social Development, with help from the Kaikoura District Council, Hurunui District Council, Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce, and Enterprise North Canterbury.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says if businesses need assistance for longer than eight weeks, the scheme will be extended.

"It is designed to give employers who experience a sudden big and sustained drop in revenue the confidence to retain their permanent staff while we all get more certainty on the future of the district's key industries like tourism, hospitality and fisheries," she says.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says the area's fishing industry will be significantly affected by the quake.

"This fishery here for paua is worth up to about $2 million in exports. For rock lobster it's significantly more, in the $20 million range, so we know this will have a severe impact on the local community."

He says the Government is focusing on supporting the area's three main industries: tourism, fishing and farming.

"We're very mindful that there's widespread damage across the local and regional economy here, and we believe the package that we've come up with will satisfy most people."

Companies insured for loss of earnings will not be eligible for the subsidy until their insurance cover has dried up.


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