The ACT's opposition has questioned the timing of the territory government's rollout of the ChooseCBR discount voucher scheme, saying the coronavirus stimulus measure had been introduced too late.
But the government says they will roll out the scheme to help boost business spending during the winter lull.
The second rollout of the discount voucher scheme is set to start next month, following a trial of the vouchers late last year.
The ACT government has committed $2 million to the voucher scheme, which is aimed at encouraging Canberrans to shop locally and offers discounts at small ACT businesses.
Canberrans can claim up to a $50 discount when they spend at least $100 at businesses that choose to participate in the scheme.
But opposition whip Jeremy Hanson said the economic stimulus should have been introduced earlier.
"We're more than a year into Covid and the government is finally rolling out this scheme and you can see it as too little too late," he said.
"There's a lot of Canberra businesses, particularly small businesses that have been crying out for support."
The ACT government had always intended to introduce the scheme in 2021, following a $500,000 trial of the program last December.
ACT Business Minister Tara Cheyne said the scheme was timed to coincide with the start of winter, a time when businesses tended to see a drop in customers.
"It's colder and Canberrans are a bit more likely to stay at home," she said.
"And so having a bit of an encouragement [for customers] to get out there and to explore new businesses and for businesses to attract loads of new customers that is the shot in the arm to ensure that our economic recovery remains strong over this year."
The December trial attracted criticism after only $310,000 of the $500,000 was spent during the three-week trial. Only 336 of the 2000 eligible businesses signed up.
The second rollout of the scheme has since broadened to include 4000 eligible businesses.
Mr Hanson called the trial a debacle but said he was glad the government had heeded the criticism from both the Liberals and the business community.
"We welcome this but it's got to be delivered a whole lot better than the previous scheme, which was a complete failure," he said.
The Canberra Liberals also called for the government to divulge how much the administration of the scheme would cost.
Ms Cheyne said as it was an ongoing process the final cost was not yet finalised but she suspected it could cost about $200,000.
Following the first scheme, a review was undertaken and the government sought feedback from small businesses.
A main criticism was a lack of awareness from both businesses and customers.
Consequently, the government will spend more time educating businesses about the scheme, including a webinar for businesses.
Businesses that sign up would also be sent a "toolkit", which would include resources, such as posters for shop windows, resources with tips on the scheme and social media assets.
Canberra Business Chamber chief executive Graham Catt said the changes to scheme were positive.
"The business sector is always looking for more measures from government, both federal and the ACT," he said.
"But I think anything we can do to help business and anything we can help to do to drive the economic growth of the ACT and business in general is a good thing. So this is a really good initiative now."
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