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Summit Outlines Environmental Economic Package

National Summit Outlines Environmental Economic Package

Environment and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand Inc PO Box 11-057, Wellington. Tel/fax 04-385-7545

Media Release - Sunday 29 August, 1999 Wellington

National Summit Outlines Environmental Economic Package

A national summit of delegates from environmental organisations from around the country today adopted a comprehensive package of measures for economic management, which they will urge all political parties to adopt.

ECO spokesperson, Cath Wallace, said the package includes fiscal switching so that revenue is raised by means of polluter and environmental degrader pays charges, allowing a lightening of taxation on income and expenditure.

The proposals were adopted at the national ECO summit, a meeting of a coalition of 70 organisations with a shared interest in environmental management.

"New Zealand economic management is environmentally blind," said Cath Wallace.

"New Zealand is lagging well behind other OECD countries and even some developing countries in finding exciting and innovative ways of helping the environment while enhancing efficiency", says economist Cath Wallace.

The groups presented a series of economic measures to improve environmental management while improving price signals so that more account is taken of environmental damage.

"Both the private and public sectors try to ensure that financial capital is accounted for and well managed, but we do not do the same for natural capital: the forests, sea, land, soil and air."

"This is crazy," said Wallace. "Good economic and environmental management both require that New Zealand does not allow natural capital to be damaged or diminished in quantity or quality and that what is being lost should be restored."

"The summit urged greater use of financial disincentives to environmental damage and depletion through the use of economic instruments in environmental management." The package released urges a fiscally neutral carbon charge of greater than $50/tonne of carbon to combat climate destabilisation.

"Budget secrecy is seen as a barrier to sensible public discussion of fiscal policy and expenditure priorities. The summit agreed that it should be largely removed except in cases such as excise taxes where positioning behaviour might be a problem.

"The meeting also called for fuller accountability by State Owned Enterprises, Local Authority Trading Enterprises and Crown entities, with greater disclosure and penalties for agency non- disclosure or tardiness in information releases", said Wallace.

"The package includes disclosure requirements on both the public and private sector about their impacts on the environment and depletion of resources. These would be implemented via amendments to the Public Finance Act, the Companies Act, the Financial Reporting Act and the Local Government Act.

"The removal of cross subsidies of road users by rate payers, and of heavy transport users by other road users, is also urged as part of a major shake-up of transport policy. The aim of this is to reduce congestion on roads, vehicle emissions and community dislocation.

The policies include recommendations for incentives and the provision of the infrastructure for people to switch to more economically efficient and environmentally sound transport systems.

For more information contact Cath Wallace, (04)389-1696 or (04)463-5713.


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