While some talk of recession, Nash has cheering news (and a $54m trough) for the tourism sector – or for favoured operators, at least

Buzz from the Beehive

Businesspeople gathered in Christchurch for a national trade show called MEETINGS were treated to a cheering-up speech from Stuart Nash, Minister of Economic and Regional Development and of Tourism.

MEETINGS is described as the only national tradeshow in New Zealand for the business events industry, organised by Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA). Once a year, the conference, meetings and events, exhibition and travel incentive sector come together to discuss new business opportunities across the country.

And – in this case – they heard from Nash about the sums the government is providing to boost the industry.  A trough, in other words.

More ominously (if you happen to be bothered about the futures of industries which become subjected to central planning) he enthused about the government’s strategy for the tourist sector and policies which determine what sort of tourists should be encouraged to come here.  

It was the same day that StatsNZ added to a stream of disquieting economic news (a 10 per cent rise in food prices, a stock market crash and so on)  by reporting New Zealand’s GDP fell 0.2 per cent in the March 2022 quarter, worse than most economists had forecast. Continue reading “While some talk of recession, Nash has cheering news (and a $54m trough) for the tourism sector – or for favoured operators, at least”

Rwanda travel plans for UK deportees are stymied but Prince Charles is headed there – and Nanaia Mahuta is going, too

Buzz from the Beehive

Rwanda is back in the headlines, not only for the role it is playing in the British Government’s  highly controversial plans for ridding their country of asylum seekers (the first deportation flight was cancelled after a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights, which decided there was “a real risk of irreversible harm’’ to the asylum seekers involved).

The Central African country is also embroiled in a dispute with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, each country accusing the other of firing rockets across their shared border.

According to Al Jazeera,

“This seems to have been triggered by fighting between the M23 rebel group and state forces in the country’s east.

“Both Congo and the United Nations have accused Rwanda of supporting the M23 movement.” Continue reading “Rwanda travel plans for UK deportees are stymied but Prince Charles is headed there – and Nanaia Mahuta is going, too”

Robertson is singing of robustness as GDP rebounds – but costs are surging and the balance of payments has worsened

Finance  Minister  Grant Robertson   is  still  singing merrily from  the  same  songbook  on  how  well  New Zealand   is  doing  under  his  economic  stewardship,  even  as   the  fires  of  inflation rage out  of  control.

In Parliament yesterday,  he  gamely  stood  on the  burning  deck repeating  his  mantra on  how  well  the  NZ  economy is  doing when he was questioned by  Labour’s Dr Duncan Webb  – or rather, was thrown patsies.

Manufacturing sales  had  jumped  12% in the December  quarter, the  labour  market remained strong, job ads  were near record  highs, reopening the  borders would assist the  tourist  and  hospitality industries…

Robertson’s buoyancy  ebbed,  but  only  slightly,   as  National’s new finance spokesperson,  Nicola Willis, sought  to  puncture  the  balloon.   She  wanted   to  know whether  he  agreed  with ANZ economist Miles Workman that “inflation is now running laps around wage growth”, and “households are going backwards at an alarming rate”. Continue reading “Robertson is singing of robustness as GDP rebounds – but costs are surging and the balance of payments has worsened”

O’Connor chuffed about NZ’s leadership on banishing fossil fuel subsidies – but the big test will be bringing the US on board

Monitoring the Ministers

The PM has been dishing out bravery awards and releasing the Government’s 2021 National Security Intelligence Priorities while Health Minister Andrew Little has been dishing out $644 million for hospital upgrades.  Or rather, he has confirmed the government will fund 36 different local hospital upgrades throughout the country and the operational costs to support them, at a total cost of $644 million  

In  one of her statements, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged the extraordinary courage of ten people recognised for acts of bravery relating to the March 15, 2019 terrorist attacks.

In the other, she said the National Security Intelligence Priorities help us to identify threats, risks, and challenges to New Zealand’s security and wellbeing, while outlining current areas of interest where intelligence can support the Government to make informed decisions.

The Priorities have been grouped into 13 overarching themes covering a range of threats and risks to New Zealand including; foreign interference and espionage, climate change and environmental issues, malicious cyber activity, terrorism and violent extremism.  

In his statement, Andrew Little announced $100 million in fast-tracked health capital projects had been confirmed, supported by $544 million operational funding

The Government will upgrade 24 local hospitals next year to support planned and routine care, to ensure non-COVID patients are safe when COVID patients are being treated.  The Programme will be rolled out alongside an international health workforce recruitment campaign.

Oh – and let’s not overlook Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s latest statement about the resilience of the economy in the face of the impact of the Delta outbreak. Continue reading “O’Connor chuffed about NZ’s leadership on banishing fossil fuel subsidies – but the big test will be bringing the US on board”

Robertson relishes responding to patsy questions and enthusing about the economic outlook – but is he missing some grim realities?

Grant  Robertson,  perennially  exuberant  as  finance  minister  when  it  comes  to telling  the  country  how  well  the  government  is  handling  the  economy,  has  been in  top  form on  the  subject in  Parliament  in   recent  days.

Whether  the  same   buoyancy is  being  felt in  every  sector  of the  economy  could be  another  story.

But here’s  how  Robertson  was  responding  in  the  House  this  week.

On  Tuesday  he  was  saying the government’s efforts to secure  the  economic recovery have been reflected in the latest measure of the country’s economic health. Statistics New Zealand reported last week that GDP rose by 1.6% for the March 2021 quarter, exceeding the expectations of even the most optimistic commentators.

“New Zealanders confidence in the recovery saw a boost in retail spending, particularly on big ticket household items, hospitality, and holiday accommodation. Importantly, activity in the construction sector returned to near record levels, while business investment in plant and machinery jumped by over 15 percent. The higher COVID-19 alert levels during the quarter only had a limited impact on the economy thanks to the quick response which provided cash flow and confidence. Quarterly activity in March has now exceeded the December 2019 quarter pre-pandemic level.

“Nevertheless, the data does show the volatility that NZ has to deal with during the pandemic. This 1.6% increase followed a 1% decline in the December quarter and a record 14.1% increase in the September quarter”. Continue reading “Robertson relishes responding to patsy questions and enthusing about the economic outlook – but is he missing some grim realities?”

Team NZ’s rejection of public funding offer means around $100m won’t be sunk into America’s Cup defence

It’s full steam ahead for the economy, according to the latest GDP statistics and a  Finance Minister who eagerly drew attention to the new data.

Our farm industries, generally, are doing nicely, too, thank you, in spite of head winds which include a growing raft of government regulations.

But prospects of the America’s Cup being defended in this country are in the doldrums.  That’s bad news for yachting buffs (but great news for taxpayers).

GDP increased 1.6% in the first three months of 2021, much better than the Treasury forecast of a modest decline of 0.2% in May’s Budget or (with the benefit of more recent data) economic commentators’ forecast of an increase less than 1%.

Internationally, the OECD average was 0.3%.

The economy was 2.4% above where it was in the March quarter last year.

A measure of the strength of the food and fibres sector – or rather, a measure of the government’s confidence in the sector – can be discerned from two reports released at Fieldays in Mystery Creek. Continue reading “Team NZ’s rejection of public funding offer means around $100m won’t be sunk into America’s Cup defence”

Nash heads south but the news was muffled by yacht racing hoopla and the promise of more state funding to keep Team NZ afloat

Our Beehive bulletin

Here’s good news from the Beehive for South Island tourism operators, desperate for an economic pick-me-up after their turnovers were shrunk by the closing of the borders in March last year.  More visitors are on their way.

Not many, mind you.  Just one Minister of the Crown and whatever entourage he might take to carry his bags.  But it’s the Minister the tourism operators most want to talk with:

South Island regions hardest hit by the closure of international borders are the focus of a visit by Tourism and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash over the next two days.

We don’t know how closely Nash’s ministerial colleague, James Shaw, monitors the emissions generated by political travel.  But Shaw and his officials do keep tabs on emissions pricing and have just announced the first auction of emissions allowances.

This news and news of Nash’s travels, alas, have been squeezed out of the big headlines by the result of a boat race in Auckland, which triggered a nationwide blast of ballyhoo and jingoism.

The Beehive was not immune.  Indeed, the PM and her team were so exuberant that they did not wait for a request before they announced they would invest more millions of our money in the next defence of the  America’s Cup.    

Among other news: Continue reading “Nash heads south but the news was muffled by yacht racing hoopla and the promise of more state funding to keep Team NZ afloat”

PM’s intervening in Ihumato land dispute (or was it meddling?) results in a $29.9m settlement – for now

Phew!  So many announcements have poured from the Beehive in the past 24 hours, it must be challenging for reporters, commentators and analysts to keep up.

While so much was going on, the Government announced the agreement reached on the future of Ihumato and the price tag which is the cost of the Prime Minister’s highly contentious decision to mollify a vociferous bunch of land protesters by intervening.  Or (if you prefer) meddling.

The figure is $29.9 million.

But we should brace for more because of the precedent that has been set.

The best that can be said is that the government books are in better shape now to absorb the price of the state’s involvement than seemed likely a few weeks ago.

The PM – notably – has not added her name to the joint statement on the land dispute that was issued today.

The signatories did include Grant Robertson, deputy prime minister, who has also issued two self-congratulatory statements of an economic nature as Minister of Finance. Continue reading “PM’s intervening in Ihumato land dispute (or was it meddling?) results in a $29.9m settlement – for now”

Robertson is comforted about the state of the economy while his colleagues get on with spending borrowed money

The first highlighted item – in a press statement from Finance Minister Grant Robertson after the release of the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update – is that the economy is doing better than forecast.

Similarly, Robertson today was taking comfort from better-than-forecast GDP figures which show GDP fell 12.2% in the June quarter from March and plunged the economy into recession.

“This result was better than the Treasury forecast of 16% released yesterday and at the lower end of other commentators’ expectations,” Grant Robertson said.

Next in descending order on his list of highlights from the PREFU yesterday were the expectation unemployment would peak at 7.8%, down from 9.8% forecast in the Budget; year-to-June accounts showed tax revenue, debt and OBEGAL better than forecast; global forecasts have been downgraded because of COVID-19 uncertainties; and “balanced plan to support critical public services, manage debt and reduce the deficit caused by COVID-19” (his balanced plan, we presume).

 Further down, we learn something about the debt that is being amassed:  Continue reading “Robertson is comforted about the state of the economy while his colleagues get on with spending borrowed money”

Resuscitating a virus-ravaged economy – the answer lies in the soil and the exports it generates

Westpac is forecasting 200,000 jobs will be lost in NZ as a result of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.  Chief economist Dominick Stephens estimates economic activity during the four week lock-down would decline by a third, despite the government and the Reserve Bank having “done a lot to calm financial markets”.

Stephens said his feeling was that GDP in the three months to June would fall by more than 10%— “which is completely unprecedented in our lifetimes”.

The  Westpac  diagnosis  reinforces  the argument  advanced  by  Point of   Order   in  one of  its most intently  read  posts:  “After the lock-down the  economy’s  recovery  will be  dependent on dairy farmers and  their  milk”.

This post  stressed  that  when the   time   comes for the   government to  start  planning  how the  economy   can recover,   it  should be   working hard   to ensure  the  dairy  industry,  along with other  key  pillars of the  primary  sector,  gets  every encouragement to  increase   production.

Many of those who  read  the post  agreed that the  volume  of criticism  dairy farmers  had to  absorb  because  of the methane  emissions of their herds  and  the dirtying of  rivers  and streams  reached    absurd  levels and  affected  industry  morale. Continue reading “Resuscitating a virus-ravaged economy – the answer lies in the soil and the exports it generates”