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Commerce & Local Govt Politicians For Growth

Chambers Of Commerce And Local Government Politicians For Growth

“Tomorrow at our National Conference in sunny Nelson, the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce are launching their latest economic policy document” said Wellington Chamber CEO Philip Lewin.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming both Prime Minister Helen Clark and Opposition Leader Don Brash to this annual event, which will bring together representatives of all 30 Chambers of Commerce nationwide”.

NZCCI’s new publication is called Achieving Faster Growth for New Zealand: Local Government’s Role. Its release has been timed to coincide with the Council election campaigns up and down the country.

“This will set out the Chambers’ own policy agenda on what Local Government can do better to promote the economic growth we all want” said Mr Lewin. “At the same time, the Chambers are asking a series of questions of candidates in all parts of New Zealand to see how they measure up”

For example:

Do you want a better standard of living for local residents through faster economic growth? Will you publicly commit yourself to work actively for faster growth as a major personal priority?

Are you clear about what your role will be on council, how to work with other councillors and council staff, and how you can best go about achieving your goal of policies that support faster growth? Will you review the way the council is implementing the Resource Management Act to make sure it enables growth? Will you be making sure local infrastructure is adequate to growth, but not do it so that money is needlessly wasted?

In particular do you commit to: Considering user charging when appropriate and practicable, to make sure infrastructure is really needed; while looking after the less well-off to ensure they still get access to essential services? Borrowing appropriately to pay for infrastructure when the next generation will benefit from it? Seeking partnerships with private firms in building, operating and maintaining infrastructure, to get the best possible deals?

Do you support responsible, transparent and frugal management of the council’s finances? In particular do you commit to: Having financial and other plans prepared so they are easily understood, and to have them independently reviewed against benchmarks to help residents and ratepayers engage genuinely in consultations on them? Working with other councils to publish better information on your activities (core, trading and investments), so council performances can be easily compared? Having formal public processes for council appointments to boards, and not putting yourself forward unless you have appropriate skills and are willing (if necessary) to undertake training in directorship? Ensuring investments are managed professionally? A target of not increasing income from rates and taxes at more than 1% real per resident per year, and only taking on new activities when the cost/benefit is clear, and independently reviewed? Actively reviewing the potential to undertake service delivery with neighbouring authorities as part of each annual planning cycle? Initiating a review of the opportunities to amalgamate with neighbouring authorities, and if relevant the creation of a local unitary authority?

Finally, will you support direct spending on economic development activities that are realistic in their aims; carried out within a clear strategy; will be carefully evaluated; and focus on facilitation rather than direct provision?

“Candidates who can credibly answer “yes” to all these questions deserve the support of our 20,000 Chamber of Commerce members nationwide – together with other New Zealanders who want faster growth for our country” Mr Lewin concluded.

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