A scheme to encourage Canberrans to shop locally will be reviewed before it is rolled out again, as the ACT Opposition called the ChooseCBR voucher program a "failed scheme".
The discount voucher scheme will be revived later this year after the territory government allocated $2 million to it in the ACT budget. It followed a trial of the vouchers in December.
The move to roll out the full program was criticised by the Liberals, who said the budget did not do enough to help local businesses.
The scheme offered discount vouchers that could be redeemed at Canberra businesses across retail, tourism, accommodation, arts and recreations, personal services and hospitality businesses.
But the trial of the scheme fell well under the $500,000 the government had funded for the program, with only $310,000 redeemed over a three-week period.
The scheme was extended by three days, after less than one-quarter of the $500,000 allocated had been used just days before the trial was set to be finished.
ACT Minister for Business Tara Cheyne told the Legislative Assembly the scheme was being reviewed but it was not a formal review and its findings were unlikely to be made public.
"There is a review under way in the directorate at the moment. It's not a formal review and I don't suspect there will be something that will be published," she said.
The revelation came in question time after Liberal MLA Leanne Castley asked Ms Cheyne if a review had been conducted.
"It is all well and good for the minister to say they are doing reviews but what does this mean for the small businesses currently doing it tough all around Canberra?" Ms Castley said.
"The minister has been unable to provide any real answers as to what changes will be made to the failed scheme and has indicated a review of the program is under way but will not be publicly available.
"This government needs to be transparent with Canberra business owners and provide them with the adequate support they need."
The Canberra Times asked Ms Cheyne about the scope of the review. She said it was an internal review based on feedback. She also seemingly backtracked on her comments that the review findings would not be made public.
"The government is doing an analysis of the trial before a further rollout in 2021. This analysis will consider a range of feedback from local business and consumers and will be informed by a survey that was conducted with users at the end of 2020," she said.
"The ACT government regularly assesses and seeks feedback on government programs in the normal course of business. This is an internal process and will be done to inform the design of the full rollout.
"Key points from this analysis will be made public when the details of the full rollout are announced."
Ms Cheyne said the government had always intended to do a full rollout of the scheme, which was an election commitment.
She had received feedback from businesses and recognised there needed to be changes to the program.
"Some of the changes being looked at include things like marketing and ensuring businesses have better signage to let people know where they can spend their vouchers," she said.
"Overall, feedback provided to government was positive, with many saying they found the program easy to use and that it did encourage customers to spend more.
"Other feedback suggested there could have been better promotion of the program."
While the scheme was under budget, Ms Cheyne defended the trial to the Assembly, saying it was "nothing to be sneezed at". She said the scheme had contributed $1.9 million to the territory's economy.
"For every one dollar of government investment during the trial, $6.30 was injected into the ACT economy, resulting in over $1.9 million in economic stimulus to the ACT economy," she said.