Govt welcomes OECD report
Hon Grant Robertson
Minister of Finance
25 June 2019
The Government has welcomed the OECD’s 2019 Survey of New Zealand, saying its recommendations fit the policy direction the Government is taking, including in the Wellbeing Budget.
The OECD carries out country surveys every two years to review its members’ economic policies. The OECD was in New Zealand during October and March to carry out and test its research, with the bulk of the 2019 survey written before the Wellbeing Budget was delivered on 30 May.
The 2019 survey looked at New Zealand through a wellbeing frame. The OECD found that “current wellbeing in New Zealand is generally high”, with our performance “very good for employment and unemployment, perceived health, social support, air quality and life satisfaction”.
Grant Robertson said this fits with the Government’s focus to reduce unemployment and get Kiwis into work, support families with the costs of living through policies like the Families Package, paid parental leave and cheaper doctors’ visits, and invest in our health system.
The OECD report also highlights why it’s important that the Government continues to run surpluses and keep debt under control, with the 2019 survey noting that a sharp slowdown in China and natural disasters are the two most possible severe shocks that could affect New Zealand.
“That’s why we are delivering growing surpluses in the Budget, and reducing net debt to 20% of GDP within five years of taking office to make sure we have funds set aside to manage future shocks or unexpected events,” Grant Robertson said.
It was interesting to see that many of the OECD’s recommendations were covered by policies announced in and around the Wellbeing Budget, Grant Robertson said.
“For example, the Government’s announcement yesterday that we will implement a depositor protection regime was a key recommendation from the OECD – one it has continuously given New Zealand in these surveys.
“The Wellbeing Budget’s investments in mental health and in breaking the cycle of child poverty – including a focus on domestic violence – are focussed specifically on improving the wellbeing of New Zealanders. As are our investments to encourage more sustainable land use.”
The OECD recommended the Government provide greater venture capital support for early expansion stage firms and boost support for collaboration between research institutions and industry.
“That’s exactly what we’re doing with the Wellbeing Budget’s $300 million venture capital investment fund. We’ve also announced more Government investment to back our start-ups to commercialise their ideas and grow,” Grant Robertson said.
“It was also pleasing to see the OECD praise our $1 billion research and development tax credit investment, as well as our decision to give the Commerce Commission greater powers to look into unproductive parts of the economy like our fuel companies.”
Other recommendations are set to be addressed by upcoming policy announcements or changes.
“In housing, the new Urban Development Authority will cut through red tape to increase housing supply. The KiwiBuild reset will drive the building of affordable housing, and we’re ramping up the state house building programme announced in Budget 2018.”
The OECD has made some useful suggestions about the overall wellbeing approach and the development of the Living Standards Framework. These will be considered as part of our planning for Budget 2020, Grant Robertson said.