Bhutan was into well-being long before NZ – and the bureaucrats could be an obstacle here

As  the  dust settles   after   last week’s  budget   (or should that be  on last week’s  budget),  it  has been  hard to  find   any  commentators  who  thought it   was  “transformational”.  Those  who  might be  identified as  Left-leaning didn’t  break into raptures;   some who claim to be  independent (Duncan  Garner,  for  example) were  critical  (“what should have been a  triumph  became a nightmare”);  and on the right  a   headline over a  Matthew Hooton  essay (“Well-being  just  Wellington BS”)   was  fairly  typical.              

Of  course, there  were  some  like  Audrey   Young   in the  NZ  Herald who  thought it  was  a  “marketing triumph  for  Ardern and  Robertson so far”,  although   she  sensibly applied  a  caveat   that  slow growth   “could  nix feel-good  factor of the  well-being  Budget”.

Across  the  Tasman,    commentary  on  the  NZ  budget   was  highly  laudatory,  particularly  from those pundits   who  were still red-faced from predicting  a Labour shoo-in   at  the  Federal  election. Continue reading “Bhutan was into well-being long before NZ – and the bureaucrats could be an obstacle here”

Makhlouf gets credit for his promotion of well-being – but what has happened to Treasury’s well-being?

Ireland has appointed the head of New Zealand’s Treasury department, Gabriel Makhlouf, as the next governor of its central bank.  He succeeds Philip Lane, who is moving to Frankfurt to join the executive board of the European Central Bank as its chief economist.

Confirming Makhlouf’s appointment to the Central Bank of Ireland, Irish finance minister Paschal Donohoe said:

“Gabriel has demonstrated his broad and detailed knowledge of economics, financial markets, monetary policy and fiscal policy, and has the experience of leading a large and complex public service organisation of 10,000 people.”

Before heading New Zealand’s treasury, Makhlouf was chair of the OECD committee on fiscal affairs, the world’s leading tax rule-making body.

According to the Financial Times, this is a priority area for Ireland in light of moves to overhaul global corporate tax rules.

In this country, in its report on the appointment, Stuff said Makhlouf is credited with introducing well-being measures into government Budgets. Continue reading “Makhlouf gets credit for his promotion of well-being – but what has happened to Treasury’s well-being?”

It looks like fairness has been foregone and we should focus on a fiscal fillip to our well-being

Finance Minister Grant Robertson sounded bullish about the NZ economy this week.

That’s a good sign as New Zealanders await his second budget.

He has already told us he is looking beyond traditional measures—such as GDP—to a wider set of indicators of success. The development of budget priorities, he insists, represents a new way of thinking about how NZ’s success is measured.

Robertson set out his five priorities for Budget 2019 as:

– Creating opportunities for productive businesses, regions, iwi and others to transition to a sustainable and low-emissions economy;

– Supporting a thriving nation in the digital age through innovation, social and economic opportunities;

– Lifting Māori and Pacific incomes, skills and opportunities;

– Reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing, including addressing family violence;

– Supporting mental wellbeing for all New Zealanders, with a special focus on under 24-year-olds. Continue reading “It looks like fairness has been foregone and we should focus on a fiscal fillip to our well-being”

Budget surpluses are Robertson’s aim but well-being pressures will test his prowess

Finance  Minister Grant Robertson has headed for Washington for the spring meetings of the  IMF  and  World Bank,  as  well as  for  talks   with other   finance  ministers  and  senior  US  government  officials.

Despite  the darkening cloud  on the global  economy   Robertson  is  gung-ho  about the  state of the  NZ  economy,  although  he   concedes that, as an outward-facing export nation,

“ … NZ is not immune to this global uncertainty, and we have to bear that in mind as we transition to a more productive, sustainable, and inclusive economy”.

In  Parliament  before   his  departure for  Washington  he cited reports which indicate the NZ economy continues to out-perform its international peers.  Continue reading “Budget surpluses are Robertson’s aim but well-being pressures will test his prowess”

The Martinborough message to ministers must be ‘lift your game’

As the  Labour  caucus  suns  itself  at   Martinborough, and  members  savour one  or  two of  the  local   products,  it  may seem  like a  golden summer for the party.

PM  Jacinda  Ardern  is  just  back  from Europe  where some of  New Zealand’s finest  journalists  modestly   recorded   how  she  bedazzled  the elites.

And although some  commentators on the  Left, notably  Chris Trotter, have rather carpingly  been  critical  of  Ardern  because there  is little to show for  the  “transformation”   which the PM promised  New Zealanders, caucus members  are unshaken in  their  conviction  transformation will happen.

Never  mind  the  own  goals  scored  by  Clare  Curran and Meka Whaitiri, not to mention Iain  Lee-Galloway  on the  Karel Sroubek  affair, or  Phil  Twyford with  his KiwiBuild fiasco:  the  Ardern  government   will soon  be tackling education reform,  introducing a  capital gains tax  to make  the  system  “fairer”,   and  giving  trade unions greater powers in  wage bargaining. Continue reading “The Martinborough message to ministers must be ‘lift your game’”

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”