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New watchdogs for election spending promises

New watchdogs for election spending promises, RMA, and EQC disputes

By Pattrick Smellie

May 17 (BusinessDesk) - The Budget creates three new government quangos to run the rule over political parties’ spending promises, keep tabs on local governments’ administration of the Resource Management Act, and a special tribunal to sort out Canterbury earthquake insurance disputes.

Dubbed the “independent fiscal institution”, the new body to provide all political parties with non-partisan advice on costing their policies is a Green Party policy that was included as part of its confidence and supply agreement, allowing the Labour Party to form a government last October.

The IFI would provide the public with an assessment of government forecasts and cost political parties’ policies, said Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

Greens co-leader James Shaw said that 25 of the 36 member countries of OECD have such bodies and that they can “crunch political parties’ election promises in a credible way”.

The quality of election policy costings by the government’s coalition partner, New Zealand First, was heavily criticised before the 2017 election, while the then National Party Finance Minister, Steven Joyce, made political capital by suggesting Labour faced an $11.7 billion ‘fiscal hole’ in its plans.

Separately, Environment Minister David Parker announced the creation of a new unit “to oversee compliance with the Resource Management Act.

“At present, compliance, monitoring and enforcement actions are somewhat variable across councils,” said Parker.

The oversight unit, costing $3.1 million over the next four years, would “complement guidelines developed by councils to meet their responsibilities”.

Earthquake Commission Minister Megan Woods and Courts Minister Andrew Little also announced the creation of a special insurance tribunal to resolve outstanding EQC and insurance claims relating to the Canterbury and other earthquakes.

(BusinessDesk)

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