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Time to Get Going for Growth!

For Immediate Release: 23 July 2002

“Time to Get Going for Growth!” say Chambers of Commerce

“We call upon the new Government, whoever they may be to commit unwaveringly to a 4% growth target for New Zealand” said Nigel Gould, President of New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Industry today. “New Zealand as an economy has been falling behind in the competitiveness stakes – even with 4% we will only be marking time unless it can be sustained”.

Mr Gould was speaking after today’s NZCCI Board Meeting in Wellington.

“Notwithstanding all the noise throughout the Election campaign about immigration and two-year old corn cobs” said Mr Gould, “the real policy challenge facing all of us is starkly simple. It’s growth – how to get it and how to sustain it. Without economic growth none of the quality social outcomes urged by our politicians are ever going to happen”.

There are 31 Chambers of Commerce up and down New Zealand, ranging in size from Auckland to Dannevirke. Mr Gould stressed that Chamber members are practically-oriented business people, concerned with positive outcomes in their regions and for New Zealand rather than adherence to barren ideologies of any flavour.

“For us, better education, training and retention for the New Zealand workforce is a front line issue” continued Mr Gould. “Throughout the regions the problem nowadays for our members is not unemployment but underskilling. Business and the tertiary training institutions need to pursue a far more effective dialogue on what New Zealand businesses really need from their work force”.

“The subject of excessive compliance costs is another longstanding concern to Chamber members. No government to date has done a particularly good job of getting the form filling and shovelling of statistics for government departments off the backs of Chamber member businesses. The current Government has tried to move this objective onwards but more, much more, still needs to be done”.

“It would also be fair to say that Chamber members harbour real misgivings about the greater empowerment of local government in the economy” continued Mr Gould. “The new local government legislation provides for a power of general competence which may be abused by activist councils. At the same time it takes the vote away from businesses as non-resident ratepayers. Chamber members have a vital interest in better local government as opposed to bigger”.

“Offshore we don’t think New Zealand’s external priorities are properly in sync. In particular, the Government’s headlong rush to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in the absence of our key competitors is unwarranted – and we have said so publicly on a number of occasions”.

“But on the credit side of the ledger, Chambers warmly support a bipartisan commitment between Labour and National to the cause of freer trade and more open markets for New Zealand’s exports. When it comes to trade and the way New Zealand earns its living from the rest of the world, the politics should stop at the three-mile limit. Trade has always been a bipartisan issue, and Chambers want to see it remain so”.

“Finally, Chambers have no particular hang-ups about the Government being a player in regional development. We’re interested in what works and what will be optimal outcomes for our members. This said, there is a critical line between facilitation and information enhancement by government on the one hand, and subsidy handouts on the other. That line must never be crossed. And as in all other areas of government expenditure, these regional development allocations should be rigorously scrutinised on an ongoing basis.

“Up and down the country Chamber members work away for the betterment of their communities. As wealth creators and employers they are the local heroes and the engines of that social betterment. We call upon the next government, whoever it may comprise, to steer firmly to a business-friendly course for the good of our nation,” concluded Mr Gould.

- ENDS -

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