The government needs to provide a long-term plan to return the ACT's budget to surplus to boost industry confidence in the territory's economy, Canberra's peak business body says.
Last week's fiscal update revealed the territory was heading for an almost $1 billion deficit this year, with debt expected to skyrocket, thanks to reduced revenue.
Canberra Business Chamber said the private sector would be pivotal in the ACT's economic recovery from COVID-19.
It has called on ACT's political leaders to commit to its 20-point plan to recovery, as the territory edges closer to an election.
Chamber chief executive Graham Catt said Canberrans should "think carefully" before voting.
"Two-thirds of working Canberrans are employed by the private sector. Will our government for the next four years help small business, create real jobs, and diversify our economy for the future?" he said.
Its plan, released on Tuesday, said "fiscal discipline" was fundamental to the long-term economic prosperity of the territory.
The group has been pushing the government to increase infrastructure and stimulus spending to help the territory's economy stay afloat amid the coronavirus crisis.
But it said it was aware government debt must be repaid.
"A clear long-term plan for a return to a balanced ACT budget will support business confidence that the ACT is placed to deal financially with any future external shocks or disasters," the report said.
The chamber wants the territory to appoint a permanent small business commissioner, following the success of the business commissioner role created during the COVID crisis.
It is also calling for a freeze in commercial property rates, saying some members had reported increases of up to 500 per cent.
"The negative impacts of commercial rates on both local business owners and on tenants (most of whom are small businesses) are likely to resurface once the current temporary Commonwealth-initiated lease dispute mechanisms are removed," the plan read.
"The current commercial rates regime is a regressive tax on the people and businesses that want to invest in the future prosperity of Canberra.
"The attractiveness of renting in Queanbeyan or further afield in the region is becoming a reality for many businesses in the ACT."
Chief Minister Andrew Barr has repeatedly ruled out cash grants for struggling businesses.
The report reiterated the chamber's concerns that his economic support did not go far enough.
"For those small businesses most impacted by the COVID pandemic, cash flow support could mean the difference between recovery or closure," it read.
Mr Catt said this year's election was an opportunity for parties to demonstrate their commitment to local businesses and creating jobs.
"While last week's [jobs plan] announcement by the chief minister partially addresses some of these issues, much, much more needs to be done," he said.
"Our ideas have been drawn up after extensive consultation with businesses, community groups and industry bodies over the past three months. Our policies are based on those discussions, and we're now working closely with other business groups and community groups to ensure they are implemented."