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It's time to balance the books

25 March 2004

It's time to balance the books

The Green Party is warning that a lower-than-expected December quarter current account deficit and a small February trade surplus are no cause for complacency.

Statistics New Zealand announced today that the quarterly current account deficit was $1.92 billion and the monthly trade surplus was $136 million.

"New Zealand is still living way beyond its means, despite today's results being better than expected," said Green Co-Leader and Finance Spokesperson, Rod Donald.

"The fact remains that our current account deficit for the 2003 year was $5.94b, up from $4.66b in 2002, and on current projections is expected to get worse for at least the next three years.

"It's no consolation that our country has been spending more than its been earning for over 30 years in a row.

"New Zealand's international debt is now over $100b because successive governments have refused to take the necessary steps to ensure that our economy is self-reliant and sustainable.

"This failure is most apparent in relation to trade in goods where New Zealand's reputation as an export-led economy has been destroyed by trade deficits for eight out of the last ten years. The annual trade deficit announced today of $3.49b is the worst February year deficit in New Zealand's history.

"It's time to balance the books. The Government's free trade agenda has failed to deliver and needs to be replaced by a determined 'Buy New Zealand-made' campaign, led by the Government through its own purchasing policies.

"Finance Minister Michael Cullen should also introduce across-the-board tariffs on imports, which would not only reduce the current account deficit but also provide some relief from the high dollar for domestic manufacturers," said Mr Donald.


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