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Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending - Friday 23 Aug

Fri, 23 Aug 2002

Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending - Friday 23 August 2002

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New Reserve Bank Governor announced

The Secretary to the Treasury, Dr Alan Bollard, will be the next Reserve Bank Governor. The Reserve Bank Board's non-executive directors nominated Dr Bollard and the government accepted his nomination this week. Finance Minister Michael Cullen said he was pleased the Board had chosen someone of such high ability to head the central bank. Dr Bollard has been enormously successful in changing the culture of the Treasury into a more open and outward looking organisation and was always a pleasure to work with, Dr Cullen said. Confirmation of Dr Bollard's appointment is subject to the conclusion of a contract of employment and the negotiation of a new Policy Targets Agreement. The government wants monetary policy outcomes to move closer to those of Australia. Dr Bollard was Chairman of the New Zealand Commerce Commission from 1994 until his appointment as Secretary to the Treasury in February 1998. Prior to this, he was Director of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research for seven years.

Positive Outlook for Tourism

International visitor expenditure in New Zealand increased by $597 million or 11.8 per cent to $5.7 billion in the year to June 2002. Growth was driven by a 20.6 per cent increase in earnings from the United Kingdom market to $824 million and 86.2 per cent growth from the South Korean market to $229 million. While overall performance was strong, a number of markets recorded reduced earnings, with United States down 10.3 per cent, Singapore down 29.6 per cent and Germany down 8.4 per cent. Tourism Minister Mark Burton released the latest international visitor expenditure data and tourism forecasts at the New Zealand Tourism Conference in Wellington this week. He said the earnings growth represents a massive injection of new wealth to New Zealand, the importance of which cannot be overstated. Increased tourism means jobs, increased business opportunities and a more diverse economic base for New Zealand, he said. Forecasts strongly reinforce that the trajectory of the sector is positive with international visitor nights predicted to increase by 56 per cent between 2002-2008. Domestic visitor rights are estimated to rise by 17 per cent in the same period. International expenditure is forecast to increase annually by 9.3 per cent to reach $9.7 billion in 2008, or $4 billion more than current earnings.

Health Minister announces primary healthcare grants

The injection of almost $2 million into general practice and other primary health care services around the country is designed to improve access to primary health care. Health Minister Annette King says the new Reducing Inequalities Contingency Funding had created considerable interest among health providers around the country. The Ministry of Health has approved 27 applications from 14 District Health Boards in the first of two rounds of funding. The money will help improve access to primary health care services for high-need and low-income groups. Successful applications were from provider groups in the Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Canterbury, Capital and Coast, Counties Manukau, Hawke's Bay, Hutt Valley, Lakes, Northland, Tairawhiti, Taranaki, Waikato, Waitemata and Whanganui DHB areas. Annette King says funding is targeted at providers serving a population group with known poor health status and unmet health needs. In this initial round a range of primary health care providers are being funded for services such as giving low-cost access to GPs, community health workers or community nurses. The funding is in line with the government's Primary Health Care Strategy, which aims to give all New Zealanders access to good, affordable primary health care. A further $2.4 million from the Reducing Inequalities Contingency Funding would be granted in 2003/04.

FBT rate for low interest loans up

The prescribed rate of interest used to calculate fringe benefit tax for low-interest, employment-related loans will increase from 7.5 per cent to 7.98 per cent on 1 October, Revenue Minister Michael Cullen announced this week. The rate last changed on 1 July this year and is reviewed regularly to align it with results from the Reserve Bank's survey of first mortgage rates.

New High Commissioner to Australia

The new High Commissioner to Australia will be New Zealand's most senior woman diplomat, Foreign Minister Phil Goff announced this week. Kate Lackey will begin her appointment next month. She replaces Simon Murdoch, who is returning to Wellington to take up his role as Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Kate Lackey is a career diplomat who has served in Asia, the Pacific and North America. She has served as Deputy High Commissioner in Ottawa, Consul General in Los Angeles, Director of the Ministry's Americas Division and was appointed New Zealand's first female Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1997. She had earlier served as Acting CEO of the Pacific Island Affairs Ministry.

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