Shane Jones’s $3B Provincial Growth Fund two-thirds committed
By Pattrick Smellie
May 30 (BusinessDesk) - Announcements in the Budget indicate that two-thirds of the $3 billion available for distribution from the Provincial Growth Fund has now been committed.
With $1.7 billion of projects already announced, the Budget adds $300 million for regional rail projects, which are themselves part of almost $1.6 billion in capital funding for rail in the Budget, and $40 million in funding each for waste and energy projects.
That means that some $2.08 billion of funding is either committed or “earmarked” to be spent by the PGF, a $3 billion fund created as part of the Labour Party’s coalition deal with the New Zealand First party after the 2017 election.
The fund has been the subject of controversy as NZ First’s Minister of Regional Economic Development, Shane Jones, has unashamedly sought to use the fund to advance the party’s electoral interests by investing swiftly and visibly in regional economic initiatives.
The $40 million for energy projects would “create new opportunities and help maximise labour redeployment in the case of sunset industries”, said Jones in the Well-being Budget document’s narrative.