Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed that $420 million will be allocated towards enabling the government to fully implement its Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program, a work stream that will be handled by the ATO.
This new register will upgrade and consolidate 32 separate business registers, including the Australian Business Register (ABR), into a single system, with hopes that it will reduce the regulatory burden for businesses.
The new registry will also be instrumental in the rollout of the new Director Identification Number (DIN) regime, which will require all existing and new directors to confirm their identity to a unique identifier that will be kept permanently, even if they cease to be a director.
A further $257 million from the government’s Digital Business Plan will go towards developing its digital identity system that will provide a more secure way to engage with government systems.
myGovID is the first accredited identity service provider in the system, with around 1.6 million Australians and 1.16 million businesses already using a digital identity to access government services online.
Other key elements of the government’s package will include $3.6 million towards mandating the adoption of electronic invoicing by 1 July 2022 for all Commonwealth government agencies.
This comes after the government announced last year that it would adopt five-day payment terms on contracts where both the government and a business are using the e-invoicing framework.
$22.2 million will also be dedicated to help small businesses to take advantage of digital technologies through an expansion of the Australian Small Business Advisory Service, and a further $2.5 million to connect workers and small and medium-sized businesses to digital skills training.
“The plan supports Australia’s economic recovery by removing outdated regulatory barriers, boosting the capability of small businesses and backs the uptake of technology across the economy,” Mr Morrison said.
Commenting on the plan, CPA Australia business and investment policy manager Gavan Ord said he was concerned that the funding might not be adequate, noting how far behind Australian small businesses were compared with their counterparts in Asia in terms of digital capabilities.
“Significant ongoing funding will be necessary to support and encourage many more small businesses to undertake digital transformation, which is essential to adapting to the changing economic circumstances,” Mr Ord said.
“Restrictions to manage the impact of COVID-19 have already changed how many businesses deliver their products and services to clients, including shifting to online platforms. While this is positive, action must be taken to consolidate and build on these gains.”
CA ANZ senior tax advocate Susan Franks said the government’s plan was a “good start to an economic marathon”.
“A broader government-wide review of existing data to reduce duplication of reporting and clearer communication to business on the efficiency benefits of a digital transformation are needed to support this announcement,” Ms Franks said.
“We need to hear more about how a wired-up government with ‘tell-us-once’ online efficiencies benefits those outside the government sector, such as what are the savings Australians will enjoy? What data will flow from the government to make building a business easier?”
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Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.