Industry revitalisation and the Ardern govt’s heavy agenda for 2022 – the big question is about its ability to deliver

Deputy  Prime  Minister Grant Robertson is  now  firmly entrenched as  the  key minister in the Ardern government steering  the New Zealand  economy.  That will  come  even more  sharply  into  focus this  year with PM Jacinda  Ardern planning trade  missions  to Europe, Asia,  the  US  and Australia.

So  there  was an  air  of  anticipation in Parliament  yesterday – as Robertson rose to speak in  the  debate  on the  PM’s opening statement – that  he  would  detail  his  plans  as NZ moves forward from  the  pandemic.  Clearly, New Zealanders need  to  know  how the  government  will master inflationary forces,  bring  the  surge in the  cost  of living  under  control, or even  how  those  industries which  lost momentum because of Covid will be revived.

He  did claim  credit for how the government stepped up and provided the support for New Zealanders to stay in work. Continue reading “Industry revitalisation and the Ardern govt’s heavy agenda for 2022 – the big question is about its ability to deliver”

Robertson is bullish about his latest Budget and its impact but questions persist about long-term “transformation”

As the  parliamentary  debate on the recently delivered budget  meanders  on, it  is  clear Labour  MPs  are  surfing  a  tide  of  euphoria. They  see  their  constituents overwhelmed  by  the  beneficence  of   the  Ardern government and its regard for their wellbeing.

Their  enthusiasm is  reinforced  by  the Finance Minister Grant  Robertson,  who  each day  at Question Time responds  to   patsies from his backbenchers with statistics  showing everything  is  hunky-dory.

The  PM Jacinda  Ardern  has joined  the  self-congratulatory  chorus.  She told  Opposition leader Judith  Collins  how  the  recent Budget announcement of a main benefit boost is projected to lift up to 33,000 more children out of poverty.

In combination with other changes under Labour, such as the Families Package, 109,000 families with children will be better off by, on average, $175 per week by April 2022.

The PM enthused: Continue reading “Robertson is bullish about his latest Budget and its impact but questions persist about long-term “transformation””

A budget to keep the Jacinda bubble from bursting might blunt NZ’s productivity and spur Kiwis to better themselves in Oz

Finance  Minister  Grant  Robertson  won’t  want to do anything  to disturb  the  waves  of  euphoria  washing  over  New  Zealanders when  he  presents  the  budget  this  week.  The  country is  still basking    in  the  recognition accorded  the Prime  Minister  with  the  top spot in Fortune magazine’s list of the world’s greatest leaders.

The annual list, which was published on Friday,  praised Ardern’s leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as her “world-leading climate and gender-equity policies”.

Fortune magazine has been ranking and publishing top 50 world leader lists since 2014. Although Ardern has featured on it in the past, this is the first time she has been ranked  number  one.

Even  one-time National   supporters  line  up  in  the  queue   of  Ardern  worshippers.

So  Robertson   will  strive to  avoid  any  discordant  notes in  the  budget.  Yet  the  fact  is  that  the  NZ  economy,  though  it   has  survived the  Covid   pandemic  with  a  surprising  degree  of  success,  is  facing  many  challenges,  some  of  them  with  very  sharp  edges, as  it  moves  into  the  next  cycle. Continue reading “A budget to keep the Jacinda bubble from bursting might blunt NZ’s productivity and spur Kiwis to better themselves in Oz”

The surplus looks plump, sure enough, but NZ’s living standards are a better measure of our wellbeing

Finance  Minister   Grant Robertson has  made a  rod for his  own back in  reporting a budget surplus of  $7.5bn  for the  June  year.  Immediately  there  were calls  for   tax  cuts  from  “hard-working  NZers” at  the  same time as powerful lobby groups  demanded  higher spending  on   health, education, infrastructure,  you name it.

The surplus  was the  biggest in  a  decade, more than double  the forecast.

The problem for Robertson  is that the  economy is slowing,  and the  government could  find  the tax take  this year under-shooting  this year’s  budget forecast.

So  the Finance Minister  is  left with the  old refrain:

The books are in good  shape”.

Which  won’t  win  any new votes. Continue reading “The surplus looks plump, sure enough, but NZ’s living standards are a better measure of our wellbeing”

Our productivity growth has been flagging – so fixing this should be high on Phil’s new agenda

Stripped  of  his  housing  portfolio, Phil Twyford  has  to  rebuild  his  political  reputation.

Given his spectacular  failure with  KiwiBuild, PM  Jacinda  Ardern  might have  been  pardoned  for  leaving Twyford to  work  out  his redemption   in his other  portfolio  of  Transport,   which has  enough  problems  of  its own to demand  the full-time  attention of a   struggling   minister.

But Ardern has  entrusted  the  Economic  Development  portfolio  to Twyford.  This has surprised  some business  leaders,  and dismayed  others.

NZ’s  economic  development  is  suffering  from sustained and  deep-seated  malaise.  Labour  productivity, or output per hours worked, is  around  40%  lower  than  the output per hours worked of international peers.  In a  recent report  the Productivity  Commission  noted the only members of  the  36 countries within the OECD with both a  lower  productivity level and  weaker productivity  growth than NZ  are  Mexico and Greece. Continue reading “Our productivity growth has been flagging – so fixing this should be high on Phil’s new agenda”

Well-being index may show we have little to bleat about – except productivity, perhaps

The  government  is reported to be  planning  a   “world-first well-being”  budget  in  2019.   It  won’t  be  some “light, fluffy happiness index”, but  will be based, says  Finance  Minister Grant  Robertson, on  indicators  and measures of well-being   which  can be tracked.

It  sounds a  great  idea.  The  government   sees it  as  running in tandem  with the current  measurement of  GDP growth,  which according to Robertson is a  good, long-run  measure of  economic  activity.  But he reckons GDP  doesn’t represent  what  New  Zealanders  regard as  success. He believes  success should be measured  not just through  financial  capital  (by  GDP), but through natural  capital, human capital  and  social  capital.

The government’s enthusiasm   for   tracking  “well-being”  is  apparently  matched in the departments tasked with undertaking the  research,  particularly  Treasury  and  Statistics.  Continue reading “Well-being index may show we have little to bleat about – except productivity, perhaps”