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Cabinet papers show tariffs frozen for politics

Lockwood Smith

Opposition Commerce Spokesperson

Sunday 11 June 2000

Cabinet papers show tariffs frozen for politics, not NZ's interests

"Cabinet papers obtained by the Opposition reveal the decision to freeze tariffs was based on party politics and not on any analysis of the impact on New Zealand businesses and consumers," Opposition Commerce spokesperson Lockwood Smith said today.

"The Government received a raft of advice that the tariff decision was made without a cost benefit analysis or an analysis of wider policy implications.

"The official papers also warn Ministers that they have not addressed the contribution of tariff policy to the government's broader economic strategy, and specifically its economic development plans.

"Helen Clark promised in the Speech from the Throne that, "The costs and benefits of the progressive tariff reduction will be properly examined".

"This sort of decision making shows exactly why businesses have no confidence in the Labour-Alliance Government.

"The papers released under the Official Information Act show the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Treasury, all advised that the tariff policy was not supported by any analysis of costs, benefits and wider policy implications.

"Officials even asked for money to pay for more sound analysis of the impact of the tariff policy on economic development - but Ministers refused to agree to it.

"Advice has been deleted from the cabinet paper - but it's highly likely Ministers were warned the tariff freeze would be negative for economic development.

"And despite all these warnings the papers reveal the Government did not even consult with the business sectors that would be affected by the tariff decision.

"How can business have any confidence in a government that takes major decisions without analysis, despite warnings, and without consultation with those affected by the decisions? This is just one more example of a left wing government pursuing its party political agenda regardless of cost to the New Zealanders," Dr Smith said.

Ends

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