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Investment Statement shows strong government balance sheet

Investment Statement shows strong government balance sheet

20 Mar 2018

The Treasury’s 2018 Investment Statement He Puna Hao Pātiki published today shows the government’s balance sheet is healthy and resilient to economic shocks, says Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf.

The Investment Statement is an examination of the Crown’s balance sheet and is required every four years under the Public Finance Act 1989. Its purpose is to describe and state the value of the Crown’s portfolio of significant assets and liabilities, how this has changed from the past, and how it is expected to change in future. It also discusses the importance, progress and principles of good balance sheet management.

Mr Makhlouf says the Investment Statement is important for transparency because the government is managing the assets and liabilities on behalf of the people of New Zealand.

“It’s about our schools and hospitals, our superannuation and accident compensation, our state highways and state-owned enterprises. And the numbers involved are huge. At the end of June 2017, the government owned $314 billion worth of assets and owed $197 worth of liabilities, for a net worth of $117 billion. That’s around $24,000 per person. And the numbers are growing bigger. By 2022 assets are expected to reach $365 billion and liabilities $205 billion.

“But more important than the numbers themselves is how these assets and liabilities are used. They provide resources which the government can draw on for raising wellbeing, now and into the future. Managing the balance sheet well is essential for delivering public services needed today in a way that maximises value for money, and for sustainable, resilient and adaptable public finances that will support the community for generations to come,” Mr Makhlouf says.

He Puna Hao Pātiki differs from the previous Investment Statement published in 2014 by using the organising principles in the Treasury’s Living Standards Framework. The 2018 Statement includes a chapter on broadening the Investment Statement to include natural capital considerations.

“The Treasury has an ambition to integrate a broader conception of economics and value into the everyday work of public policy, and the Living Standards Framework is the way we are taking that forward. What we are now doing is taking wellbeing indicators and looking at how to actually apply them in policy development and resource allocation.

“The Investment Statement is one of the major pieces of our work programme as we further develop the Living Standards Framework. And the Statement concludes that the state and trajectory of human, social and natural capitals need to be included in analysis of balance sheet resilience and the government’s fiscal position.

“The New Zealand government balance sheet is currently healthy and our public finances are resilient in the face of adverse events. This strength means we have choices. It opens up a wider range of options for policies and investments that improve the living standards of New Zealanders. And it enables better planning to confront some known long-term fiscal pressures. As the Treasury’s 2016 Statement on the Long-term Fiscal Position He Tirohanga Mokopuna shows, demographic trends like the growing and ageing of our population and challenges such as climate change will have impacts on the government’s income and spending, and therefore the public services it provides.”

The 2018 Investment Statement He Puna Hao Pātiki is available on the Treasury website at http://www.treasury.govt.nz/government/investmentstatements/2018

Also available is a speech by Gabriel Makhlouf delivered at the Investment Statement Symposium in Wellington today at http://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/media-speeches/speeches/investment-statement

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