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Restart Of The Economy After Covid 19

Covid 19 is the proverbial “rainy day”. The government has spent in the vicinity of $54 billion dollars to keep New Zealand afloat, whether wisely or otherwise only time will tell.

In household budget terms we have spent our savings and maxed out the credit card. The time has now come to put in place policies that ensure New Zealand’s economic future is in New Zealanders hands rather than the international equivalent of the bailiff’s! It is unfortunate that the major parties and bureaucrats are unable to think of anything other than tax and more tax. Their proposals likely reflect their experience and knowledge, as people that live off the taxpayer. What they don’t seem to realise is that NZ’s producers are already taxed and regulated to the point where it is inhibiting growth. Figuratively flogging taxpayers is a disincentive to be a tax payer and therefore an impediment to growth.

What we need is fresh thinking and maybe some new directions for our economy.

The government is thinking of shovel ready projects. These are presumably great in the short term but must logically peter out as drivers of growth and employment if they are for a one off projects. New roads are only of long term value if there are people and goods willing and financially able to use them. Pumped hydro or any other additional electricity is only of benefit if people can afford the price of the goods made using it. Infrastructure is useful if there is a private sector economy and a lot of income-earning (and tax paying) citizens around to use it.

To get the real private sector economy moving and employing government departments, local government, and especially the RMA needs to be reformed. At the moment about 50% of people are employed in the public sector. In 1900 that figure was only about 20%. What has happened since then that we need 30% more bureaucracy and bureaucrats making rules and policies?

This is not to suggest that rules and policies are not needed. But who is making rules and policies about the number of rule and policy makers we need? Who is watching the watchers to stop the policy makers constantly amending the policies to keep themselves employed? In short, who is ensuring the balance between the public and private parts of the economy?

NZ needs politicians brave enough to demand that policy makers do their jobs effectively enough to make themselves redundant. Logic says that truly effective and efficient rules and policies are ones that don’t need to be amended. We need rules and policies that at most only need to be monitored to show they are working. We need disincentives in place against the inclination of a policy maker to make their job permanent!

The major political parties need to get together and agree on those shovel ready projects; whether roading, rail (both passenger and freight), energy, or pumped hydro, that will last 20-30 years. Such ‘grand coalition’ thinking will set the framework for the rest of the economy. As such it will remove the scope for political and official re-litigation. Done properly (or even half right) it will reduce the need for policy advisors whose salaries can be then used to pay for the delivery of the shovel ready projects themselves!

A similar rationalisation is needed amongst NZ’s bloated ‘rule making’ classes. NZ cannot afford the multilayers of local government we have. Set some rules nationally and just once. Tell industries what standard and outcomes you want and let them work out how to meet that standard.

We need to do the basics right and when we do the basics right then we have a country that will go forward and give the people strength to take control of their own lives to be better citizens. We need politicians that are also leaders. We need people in power with the courage of their convictions making some bold decisions that set a clear direction for NZ rather than perpetuate the cacophony of overlapping and conflicting policies that has becalmed the economy.

Our children and grandchildren need New Zealand to come out of this Covid 19 pandemic far better than we have gone into it. COVID means they and we can no longer afford the economy we had, even if we wanted it!

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