As Minister for Ethnic Communities, I find it highly satisfying to see people working so hard to make their own communities strong while also making a huge contribution to the social and economic life of New Zealand.
The number of people who identify as ‘Indian’ increased almost 50% between 2006 and 2013. That’s made up of diverse faith groups that form a part of the fabric of the wider Indian community such as Sikhs and Muslims.
There are now more than 155,000 people in New Zealand who identify as Indian, and those in Auckland make up about 8% of the population.
We gain an enormous amount – socially, economically and culturally – from new migrants who choose to make a life here.
We talk about these gains in terms of ‘The Diversity Dividend’ – the value-add from those who join the New Zealand community.
You can see this in the form of new small businesses and new international trade links, in government, sport, the arts and other aspects of social and economic life in New Zealand.
Making tax easier
The National-led government recognises the importance of helping support communities and businesses to grow.
Many of our Indian communities are business owners and so I would like to share with you some of the changes you will see in a new section in Inland Revenue’s website- myIR.
You can do some new things including:
Arranging your GST payment at the same time as you submit your return.
You can do this by authorising a direct debit from your bank account or using credit or debit card. There is no need to make a separate payment by internet banking.
You can schedule the payment for the due date.
You can also request an amendment to an already filed GST return, making it easier and quicker to do.
You can choose to receive email and/or text message reminders when your GST return and payment is due or late to avoid penalties. Tax agents can also now bulk-file clients’ GST returns, access clients’ GST information, request amendments, set up payment plans and do much more.
Businesses can now also use their New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) as a unique identifier when contacting Inland Revenue.
New migrants can also register online for an IRD number, making it faster for them to start work.
Inland Revenue has bilingual staff and provides access to Language Line interpreting services. Customers can speak to Inland Revenue in 44 different languages. Online videos are available in seven different languages for anyone setting up a new business.
I have also asked Inland Revenue to work more closely with the Office of Ethnic Communities and other agencies to make sure they reach communities as effectively as possible. It was therefore pleasing to hear of Inland Revenue’s attendance at a recent small business road show, specifically for Indian Communities that was promoted by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
They also attended an Auckland Migrant Entrepreneur Forum.
Later this year, there will be another Ethnic People in Commerce (EPIC NZ) conference which will bring together ethnic business people.
The EPIC conferences have been very successful and an excellent opportunity for ethnic business people to build their networks and exchange knowledge.
This will be the sixth EPIC Conference and is intended to help ethnic business people connect with each other, the wider SME sector, and with economic development government agencies.
It is also an acknowledgement of the contribution ethnic businesses make to our nation’s economy.
The EPIC conferences are a great way to hear about inspiring ethnic business people succeeding in domestic and international markets. And they are an opportunity to showcase how ethnic diversity benefits New Zealand’s social and economic prosperity.
A range of government agencies also attend EPIC conferences and are able to provide participants with essential information about policies, regulations and laws that support best practice and business growth in New Zealand.
More details about EPIC this year will be available from the Office of Ethnic Communities website this month.
On a final note, as the former Police Minister, I am also acutely aware that there are a few things more important to all of us than public safety.
Small business owners feel particularly vulnerable because they are often targeted by violent offenders.
So, I am thrilled with the more than half-a billion-dollar announcement of extra Police that was announced by the Prime Minister and the Police Minister earlier this year.
Judith Collins is Minister of Ethnic Communities, Minister of Energy & Resources and Minister of Revenue.
Judith Collins with Prime Minister Bill English and (from left) Ravi Singh, Anand Chohan, Vijay Goel, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and Melissa Lee at the ‘Electionlink’ launch of Indian Newslink at Raviz Restaurant in Botany Junction on February 27.
(Picture by Creative Eye Fotographics)