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New ways to fund infrastructure investment required

New ways to fund infrastructure investment required

"The New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development supports a review of infrastructure investments in the light of the investment challenge in Christchurch, but says now this is not the time for any knee jerk cut backs to an agreed investment programme for Christchurch, or the nation as a whole", says NZCID Chief Executive Stephen Selwood.

"We need to find new ways to fund new investment."

This was in response to reported comments by Finance Minister Bill English that some big infrastructure projects could be delayed because of the need to pay for reconstruction in Christchurch.

"A measured and balanced response to the Christchurch earthquake is now required", Selwood says.
"Investment in productive infrastructure, including high speed broadband and transport connections into and within our major cities is a fundamental platform of the government's growth agenda.

"Rather than cut back on infrastructure that will be the very foundation of our future cities, we must find a way to rebuild Christchurch and fund the infrastructure investment for growth. In the long run, that is the very approach that will make us even stronger in the face of adversity.

"There are a variety of alternative approaches to funding future investment which, in combination, provides us the means to pay for much needed infrastructure investment. The redevelopment of Christchurch could be financed by a NZ wide earthquake levy. Partial asset sell downs is another approach. The future development of transport, water and waste water network in our major cities could be paid for by low cost network tolls and user charges.

"In Auckland an average toll of just $2.00 per vehicle on the Auckland motorway network, higher at peak and lower off peak, would be sufficient to fund the existing planned investment programme, and major new projects that are approved as part of the Auckland plan currently being developed.

"Tolls have been used to fund the Northern Gateway north of Auckland, are planned for the Tauranga Eastern Arterial and could also be used to help fund the Waikato Expressway, Transmission Gully and the Christchurch motorway network, for example. It seems unusual to use tolls in some parts of the country and not others.

"Funding major infrastructure investment was an issue before the earthquake and will always be a challenge. Using tolls and user charges as a means to help fund new infrastructure investment is an issue that needs multi-party political support. It is the very thing that Labour, the Greens, the Progressive Party, Act, United Future and the Maori party could support as a means to help build and rebuild the infrastructure that our country depends on.

"In the past we have dealt with that challenge by deferring the very investment that is required to lift productivity and improve urban development. It's time to adopt new ways of doing things", says Selwood.

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