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Budget 2018 sets the scene for a trilogy of transformation

Budget 2018 sets the scene for a trilogy of transformation, Robertson says

By Paul McBeth

May 18 (BusinessDesk) - Finance Minister Grant Robertson says Budget 2018 is the foundation of what will be a trilogy of packages to introduce a new way of measuring New Zealand's success and transform the economy to face 21st Century challenges.

Speaking at the annual post-budget event sponsored by ANZ Bank New Zealand, Robertson told the Wellington business audience that the 2018 report was expected to be a "foundational budget" in a three-year plan. Budget 2018, which included the mini-budget from Labour's 100-day plan unveiled in the half-year economic and fiscal update was about rebuilding public services and setting a platform for the future.

The government will introduce its wellbeing measurements next year, which will add a series of indicators from the Treasury's living standards framework to sit alongside the Crown accounts, Robertson said.

"We'll be measuring ourselves against all of those indicators, and I'll be reporting on them at budget time," he said. "It doesn't stop the fiscal reporting being important, it remains so. But what it says is other factors mark out our success as a country."

Robertson has previously flagged the 'wellbeing' approach as central to a new way of measuring the country's performance with a view to having it in place by 2019, drawing on the Treasury's work in developing the living standards framework that sought to formalise the department's recognition of policy impacts beyond the fiscal cost.

The Treasury and Statistics New Zealand are currently developing those measures, drawing on work by the Social Investment Unit, and Robertson told reporters after the event that the indicators and measures will be in place for the 2019 budget for as many areas as possible. He doesn't expect the framework to be finalised for a couple of years due to some data not currently being collected.

Those wellbeing indicators and measures will also feed into policy formulation, which Robertson said he hopes will break down silos in the public sector and establish a "completely different way of approaching the budget".

Robertson said the goal is to then develop policies that drive several outcomes at once, such as the Green Investment Fund supporting the government's environmental aims while also stoking investment activity to support economic growth.

He was less concrete about what the final part in the trilogy of budgets will hold, saying budget 2020 "take us through the transformation process of the economy". By that stage, the government will have received recommendations from inquiries and reviews, such as the Tax Working Group's report on a fairer and more balanced tax system, a tripartite forum on the Future of Work and the digital advisory group.

"What you can expect is a build up across the three years of the delivery of our programme," Robertson said. "It's a long way away and we're less than 24 hours away from first part of the trilogy, so we'll work our way towards that third one."

(BusinessDesk)

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