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Government Lays Out A Clear Economic Track

“Government Lays Out A Clear Economic Track - But Time Now To Walk The Talk” Says Wellington Chamber

“We agree with a fair amount in the Prime Minister’s economic statement today” was the immediate reaction of Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Philip Lewin this afternoon. “That said, plenty more needs to be done if New Zealand is to get back up in the OECD growth stakes”.

“As the Government itself has acknowledged, this will require sustained growth rates above the average”.

Mr Lewin was commenting after release by Prime Minister Helen Clark of the Coalition Government’s Growth and Innovation Strategy in Parliament.

“Wellington Regional Chamber businesses will be particularly heartened to hear the Prime Minister’s comments about the need to maximise New Zealand’s economic interactions with the rest of the world. There is no future for New Zealand in taking an inward –looking attitude. We must either maximise our interactions with the global economy, or be submerged by it as an irrelevant backwater. The Coalition Government now appears to have taken this fact of life fully on board”.

“With today’s references to economic transformation and creating globally competitive companies, the Prime Minister is saying the right stuff” continued Mr Lewin. “But the Government’s overall policy actions have to reinforce this objective, not detract from it. In reality, the choices on offer to New Zealand are pretty narrow”

“In so far as they go, we can only support the four goals of enhancing the innovation system; developing skills and talents; increasing New Zealand’s global connectedness; and focusing the Governments resources. But who wouldn’t?”

“In order to bridge the policy disconnect and realise our transformational objective, the creative energies of every New Zealand have to be liberated. This means we must smooth the paths of our wealth–creators, not trip them up with other contradictory requirements, whether as an unintended consequence or not” Mr Lewin emphasised.

“For example, we need business tax rates that do not disadvantage us relative to Australia; and a greater effort still to reduce the compliance costs burden - particularly on the small businesses which are the core members of Chambers up and down the country. Also, New Zealand should not want or need to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change ahead of our main competitors.”

“Chamber members will welcome the Government’s resolve to do better on skills shortages and training mismatches. But again, policy actions on this front will speak louder than words. If regional economic transformation and development is to become a reality, workers must be empowered by education to become productive and self-supporting”.

“We don’t go along with charges that the Government is opposed to innovation and enterprise. But at the same time, Chambers do want to see the Government’s legislative programme this year underpin the progress towards these common-sense goals and objectives – not cancel it out”.

“It is not enough to talk the talk. In promoting a genuine enterprise economy as a means to the end of prosperity and social well-being, the Government must quicken the pace, and walk the talk as well” Mr Lewin concluded.

- ENDS –

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