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Beehive Beehive - 07 November 2003

Beehive Beehive - 07 November 2003

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New superannuation scheme for state sector

A new government scheme will see the state sector match contributions made by employees in retirement savings. The superannuation scheme will be available to state sector employees in government departments, the state school sector and registered teachers employed by free kindergarten associations. Employees joining the scheme can choose their own level of contribution, and the government will match that up to a maximum of 1.5 per cent of salary in the first year and 3 per cent in the second year. Employer contributions will be on top of employees' remuneration, and will not be exchangeable. Prime Minister Helen Clark and State Services Minister Trevor Mallard say the scheme models the type of arrangements which the government would like other employers to develop. The retirement savings scheme will be operational from July 2004.

Amendment to have all dogs micro chipped

The government will introduce an amendment seeking to make micro chipping mandatory for all breeds of dogs. The Local Government select committee had recommended micro chipping be limited to dogs judged dangerous and said making this compulsory should be left to each local authority to determine. But Local Government Minister Chris Carter told Parliament this week that micro chipping can only be an effective and affordable means of dog identification if it is applied to all dogs, with a national information database. The government will meet database set-up costs of around $1m and annual running costs would amount to about 53 cents per registered dog per year. Chris Carter says the amendment to the bill will provide for the gradual introduction of universal micro chipping of dogs. The dog control legislation follows a series of particularly vicious dog attacks last summer.

New system helps NZ exporters conform with USA security measures

A new fee has been proposed to meet the extra security measures put in place by United States in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. Customs Minister Rick Barker says the United States is insisting that security systems ensure there can bee no tampering of goods crossing its borders New Zealand Customs needs about 130 extra staff and new x-ray and other technologies to ensure that high-risk cargo could be checked and cleared without delay. The cost exceeds Customs' ongoing budget and core responsibility of protecting New Zealanders, says Rick Barker. A new security fee be introduced from July 2004 would recover $8 million from the export sector, $4 million from importers and $8 million for security screening of goods trans-shipped through New Zealand.

Government's response to ICT Taskforce

Multi-million dollar government initiatives have been unveiled in response to the report of the ICT Taskforce. It advocates taking 100 New Zealand ICT companies through sales levels of 100 million dollars each by 2012. Information Technology and Communications Minister Paul Swain announced a range of initiatives to boost technical and business skills, build stronger industry networks, and improve information about the sector. These include the launch of the HiGrowth Project, the ICT implementation body and a national ICT awareness programme known as FutureIntech targeted at secondary school students. Paul Swain says work is also continuing on the ICT Taskforce's recommendations in relation to tax and regulatory issues, and the Business Law Reform Bill, due to be passed by April 2004, will improve investment opportunities in the ICT sector.

Boost in funding for Plunket

Plunket will receive an increase of $2.8 million on its baseline funding this year and again in 2004/05, under a new two-year contract reached with the government. Health Minister Annette King says more than 47,000 children are enrolled with Plunket, and the new agreement will allow all children who enrol to receive the visits they are entitled to, as well as additional visits to high-needs families and first time parents across all socio-economic groups. The increased funding demonstrates a commitment to helping Plunket achieve its goals in line with the Well Child framework, says Annette King. Plunket funding has increased from $21.2m in 2000 to $28.2m in 2003.


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