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CRIs At Forefront Of Progress

Crown Research Institutes are at the forefront of progress toward a knowledge based society, as demonstrated by both their research results and their financial performance the President of the Association of Crown Research Institutes, Dr Keith Steele, said today.

“The structure of CRIs is geared under the science reforms of the early nineties to produce outcomes of benefit to a wide range of economically productive and environmental sectors. Recent adjustments to public funding add further focus to this ‘results’ driven approach.

“Our science and our researchers are in demand overseas. Last year CRIs directly earned approximately $23 million in overseas income for the country. Our breakthroughs in respect of animal fertility, new varieties of fruit and crops, environmental science, food processing, aquaculture, minerals exploration, forestry enhancement and technological advances for industry in hi-tech areas have produced hundreds of millions of dollars in export income for New Zealand business sectors.

“Successive governments have endorsed the policy of profit re-investment by CRIs in new equipment and facilities to keep our science research institutions at world class levels. We need to do this to retain our top scientists. We must do this if we are to remain competitive in globalised markets.

“While doing so we have developed the ability to meet overseas demand for our services. It is a demand which reflects international recognition of the quality of our scientists. Links which CRIs have established with New Zealand universities further add to advancement of a knowledge society which is the stated aim of government.”

He said a recent report covering the financial position of all nine CRIs based on provisional statistics supplied by Statistics New Zealand gave a misleading and incorrect summary of their financial position.

Dr Steele said the net profit after tax of the nine CRIs quoted in the report was misleading. The post-tax profit was $25.95 million for the year to June 30, 2000, of which $5.2 million arose from capital gains. This compared with a figure of $21.2 million for the year to June 30, 1999, and $29.9 million for the year ending June 30, 1997. The 1997 figure was abnormally high because $15.6 million was derived from capital gains, including $12.6 million contributed by AgResearch from a one off land sale transaction.

“To say, as the report did, that after tax earnings were only half of their earnings three years ago, was misleading in the extreme.

Total revenue in the June 2000 year was $456,377 million compared with $387.9 million in the June 1997 year. Revenue from sources other than the Foundation for Research and Technology amounted to $202,795 million, compared with $106.1 million three years earlier.

“The achievement of increasing revenue from outside the prime government science funding agency at a time when other public funding grants are relatively static, reflects the increasing importance that the private sector attaches to CRI research.

“Personnel costs for the year to June 30, 1997 were $201.3 million and for the 12 months to June 30, 2000, amounted to $219.1 million. This increase is relative to the increased size of the businesses. We also need to keep our best people and to expand our research..

“The surplus before tax for the year to June 30, 1997, was $20.5 million (not $36.7 million as stated in the report of the provisional Statistics New Zealand figures) and that in the comparative year to June 2000 amounted to $37.3 million (not $25.8 million).

“Taxation paid rose from $5.7 million (not $6.8 million) to $10.6 million (not $10.1 million) in the three year period.

“CRIs are playing a constructive role in furthering the Government’s initiatives to promote a knowledge society. We can only do so from a sound financial base operated on commercial principles that offers greater attractiveness for long term careers in science and research.

“This year’s results overall reflect sound commercial management and a burgeoning role for science and scientists as generators of wealth for all New Zealanders.”

Ends

For further information:

Dr Keith Steele
Chief Executive, Ag Research
Tel: (07) 834-6600

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