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Rates Gallop Ahead Of Inflation

Rates Gallop Ahead Of Inflation

"Local government rate increases continue to spiral out of control," said Don Nicolson, the local government spokesman for Federated Farmers of New Zealand (Inc).

Today's release of Statistics New Zealand's farm expenses price index showed that farmed land rates rose 4.4 percent in the year to September 2003. The jump is triple the increase in headline inflation as measured by the consumers price index over the same period.

"This is more evidence that local government sees farmers as a cash cow to be milked at any opportunity," said Mr Nicolson.

The latest Statistics NZ data is very similar to the increase of 4.6 percent in the year ending September 2002.

They come on top of rural rates rising 22.5 percent between December 1992 and December 2001, more than twice the movement in general farm costs, which increased 9.8 percent over the same period.

"This leap shows the unacceptable level of rate rises over the past decade, which will worsen under new legislation including last year's Local Government Act and the Local Electoral Amendment Act," he said.

The federation last week released a survey of councils' forecast rates over the next five years. The survey showed total rates were anticipated to rise 16.8 percent for metropolitan councils, 9.6 percent for provincial and rural councils, and 18.2 percent for regional councils.

"This is just another way government is placing the big squeeze on farmers' shrinking profits," said Mr Nicolson.

"The Act is due to be reviewed in 2007. But this will be too little too late for farmers fed up with paying unfair and excessive rates," he said.

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