The Green Party is calling on Government Ministers to step up and defend small businesses in regional New Zealand, in light of accusations small businesses are being bullied by Fonterra.
Fonterra has reportedly forced 10-20 percent cuts in supplier and contractor rates and lengthened the time it takes to pay them to 90 days.
“The Minister for Small Business, Craig Foss, should be standing up for small businesses and demanding Fonterra pay its bills within the normal timeframe – 30 days – not waiting three months to pay up,” Green Party small business spokesperson David Clendon said.
“It looks like Fonterra is using its size to bully its suppliers and contractors, who are the small businesses that keep our regions ticking.
“Small businesses are not banks, and should not be expected to provide Fonterra with a free 90-day overdraft.
“The National Government needs to look closely at how solvent Fonterra is and whether its financial position means we’re actually looking at the symptoms of a much more serious economic risk.
“This kind of bullying behaviour from Fonterra suggests it could be panicking because of serious financial trouble, and leaning on regional small businesses to help hide what a bad shape its books are in.
“National needs to back up the small and medium-sized businesses that are the lifeblood of our regional economies,” Mr Clendon said.