27/07/2020

This is a service specifically targeted at the needs of busy non-executive directors. We aim to give you a “heads up” on the things that matter for NEDs in the week ahead – all in two minutes or less. 

In this Edition, we consider the extension of the Federal Government’s decision to extend the JobKeeper Payment scheme and SME Guarantee Scheme, ASIC’s latest market integrity update and other political and economic impacts of COVID-19, including the deferral of Parliament and Wednesday’s CPI data.

YOUR KEY BOARDROOM BRIEF

Jobkeeper extended.  In a widely anticipated move, the Federal Government has extended the JobKeeper Payment scheme until 28 March 2021, subject to certain modifications to employer entity eligibility and the quantum of the fortnightly payment.  To be eligible for JobKeeper Payments under the extension, businesses and not-for-profits will still need to demonstrate they meet the requisite turnover decline tests. The ATO will continue to pay the JobKeeper Payment in arrears. The extension of the JobKeeper Payment scheme beyond 27 September is expected to require legislative amendments once the Federal Parliament resumes from 24 August 2020 (see below). See the Treasurer’s media release and the Treasury’s Economic Response to the Coronavirus JobKeeper Extension fact sheet.

Federal Government extends COVID-19 SME Guarantee Scheme.  The Government’s extension of the scheme is intended to assist businesses as they move into the COVID-19 recovery phase.  The focus has shifted from providing access to working capital to enabling SMEs to access more affordable and longer-term credit.  Key changes to the scheme include: (i) extending the purpose of loans able to be provided beyond working capital, such that a wider range of investment can be funded; (ii) permitting secured lending (excluding commercial or residential property); (iii) increasing the maximum loan size from $250,000 to $1 million per borrower; (iv) increasing the maximum loan term from 3 to 5 years; and (v) allowing lenders the discretion to offer a repayment holiday period.  The initial phase of the scheme will remain available for new loans issued by eligible lenders until 30 September 2020. The second phase of the scheme will start on 1 October 2020 and will be available until 30 June 2021.  See the Treasurer’s media release.

ASIC releases market integrity update for July 2020.  ASIC’s latest Market Integrity Update, which provides an overview of regulatory developments and issues affecting market intermediaries, notes: (i) an uptick in share sale fraud and account hacking with a direction to Australian financial services (AFS) licensees to remind themselves of Information Sheet 237 (covering how to protect against share sale fraud and mitigate risks); (ii) ASIC has updated Information Sheet 177 to streamline metrics for calculating quarterly cash equity market data; and (iii) waivers from the market integrity rules must now be submitted via the ASIC Regulatory Portal.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Federal Parliament deferred until 24 August 2020.  The original 4 August date has been postponed due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the Eastern States.  Also, as foreshadowed, JobKeeper has been extended until 28 March 2021 (subject to certain modifications) to continue supporting businesses grapple with the day-to-day uncertainties embroiled in the health crisis.

Deflation alert.  The June Quarter CPI figures will be released on Wednesday and are are expected to provide evidence of Australia’s taste of the deflationary impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.  Expectations are for a fall of about 2% quarter-on-quarter, which would be the largest since the Australian Bureau of Statistics started recording quarterly CPI data in 1948.

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Our COVID-19 hub collates important articles and legal advice on various aspects of COVID-19 on how it may impact your business.