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Another Top Businessman Leaves NZ

Another Top Businessman Leaves NZ

Thursday 5 Sep 2002

ACT Leader Richard Prebble said today that the news that another top New Zealand businessman, Eric Watson, has left the country, is a serious loss.

"In the last five years, a majority of New Zealand's most successful business entrepreneurs have left the country even though they say - as Mr Watson has - that they have great affection for New Zealand.

"Losing these business entrepreneurs matters because they are job creators and have a proven track record in adding to the nation's wealth. While no doubt Mr Watson will continue to invest in New Zealand, it is also obvious that his emphasis will move to Europe, to their gain and our loss.

"The Labour Government's McLeod Tax Review identified the loss of the country's top entrepreneurs as a major issue affecting the Government's growth and employment strategy. The New Zealand tax system treats entrepreneurs who have expanded beyond this country very harshly.

"Other countries not only welcome entrepreneurs but treat their overseas earnings more favourably on the basis that they are assisting the country's overseas earnings.

"We can't afford to have the country's most successful job creators becoming tax exiles. The Government's policy makes no sense because instead of raising more tax revenue, the harsh regime drives away the taxpayers, so reducing the Government's revenue.

"The ACT Party believes that New Zealand should look at the McLeod tax report's recommendation that there ought to be a cap on the amount of tax that any one individual needs to pay, which would make New Zealand a very attractive place for the Eric Watsons to live. This is not a radical policy: nations like Switzerland have had a deliberate policy of attracting the world's top entrepreneurs to migrate to Switzerland. Their experience has been that it is a win-win deal. The entrepreneur pays tax in Switzerland, invests in that country, creates jobs in Switzerland and helps assist making the Swiss the wealthiest people on Earth.

"Every New Zealander is poorer through the migration overseas of our top job creators," Mr Prebble said.

Ends


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