Date posted: 02/10/2020

Government’s digital business plan: “A good start to an economic marathon”

The digital transformation announcement from the Prime Minister yesterday signalled a strong push from the Government to build an economic infrastructure that supports the nation’s road to recovery, says Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ).

The digital transformation announcement from the Prime Minister yesterday signalled a strong push from the Government to build an economic infrastructure that supports the nation’s road to recovery, says Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ).

This move is particularly important for the two million small businesses that are often crippled by high regulatory burdens of reporting data multiple times to different regulators, says Susan Franks, Senior Tax Advocate at CA ANZ. 

“The bushfires and pandemic have shown the importance of having accurate, up-to-date information to ensure that those adversely affected can be identified and assisted by Government,” said Franks

“With reductions in JobKeeper payments, rent and loan holidays or deferrals expiring, real-time data from the digitalisation of business is essential to survival in today’s economic conditions.

“Given there are over 250 business registers across Government, this is 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.

“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?”

According to the ATO, small businesses are owed $26 billion in unpaid invoices and 20 per cent of late payments are due to errors on invoices often associated with manually entry. Adoption of e-invoicing could generate cash flow and administrative benefits for small business. 

“Tax law is complex with penalties for mistakes so when a small business embraces e-invoicing and shares bank data with the ATO, they should enjoy trusted status without having to worry about whether each quarterly BAS is spot on. Such a business should have a lighter tax compliance burden,” said Franks.

“Australians will rightly want to access to their electronic data and know what information is being held, who it is being shared with and why.

“With so many online scammers about, more needs to be done to educate and protect consumers of government online services.”  

CA ANZ has long-advocated for a more complete picture of the potential of digital transformation, with clearer ministerial oversight of the various projects underway in various government agencies.

“Accountants regularly help clients embrace technology which improve business processes and provides better, real-time insights that allows accountants to provide sound business advice,” said Franks.

“The Government should engage with the profession to achieve the implementation goals outlined by the Prime Minister.