Foundations for the future
Hon Grant Robertson
Minister of Finance
Health, education, housing and other critical public services receive overdue investments today, says Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
“Our public services have been underfunded for too long and there has been a failure to appropriately plan for the future. That changes today,” says Grant Robertson.
“Budget 2018 begins the economic and social transformation that must happen if New Zealanders are to have better lives in the decades to come.
“The Coalition Government is rebuilding the critical services Kiwis expect their government to provide – modern hospitals, classrooms kids can learn in, public housing for those who need it, efficient transport systems and safe communities.
“Budget 2018 makes responsible investments for the future, while delivering a surplus of more than $3 billion and taking a responsible approach to debt reduction.
“We are committed to living within our means and having a buffer to deal with the risks and shocks that a small country like New Zealand inevitably faces.
“The Government’s plan is fully funded within the operating and capital allowances we have set for this and future Budgets. We have been able to increase the allowances slightly because economic growth is forecast to be stronger than was expected before the election, by cracking down on tax avoidance, by reprioritising spending to reflect the Coalition Government’s priorities and with our more balanced debt track.
“We are committed to being responsible – not just fiscally but socially and environmentally. This Government is preparing our country for the future by making sure its foundations are strong and sustainable,” says Grant Robertson.
Highlights of Budget 2018:
· Health receives a huge boost with $3.2 billion more in operating funding over the next four years and $850 million new capital – including $750 million to tackle some of hospitals’ most urgent building problems, the biggest capital injection in health in at least the last decade.
· This Budget commits to free doctors’ visits for everyone under the age of 14 – an extra 56,000 of our young people from the current policy. We are extending very low-cost general practitioner (GP) visits to all Community Services Card holders and extending the Card to all Housing New Zealand tenants and New Zealanders who receive an accommodation supplement or income-related rent subsidy. This will make going to the GP cheaper by up to $30 for the 540,000 people eligible for the Card.
· Elective surgery, maternity services, air ambulances and the National Bowel Screening Programme are among the health services receiving extra funding.
· New capital funding will build schools and hundreds of new classrooms. Operating funding for education over the next four years increases by $1.6 billion to address rising demand, fund 1,500 more teachers and raise teacher-aide funding. Early childhood education gets a $590.2 million operating boost over four years, benefiting over 200,000 children. A total of $284 million goes to Learning Support to allow every child with special education needs and learning difficulties to better participate in school life.
· Housing is boosted by more than $634 million in operating funds. We will increase public housing by over 6,000 homes over the next four years, provide more transitional housing and help for the homeless and offer grants for insulation and heating.
“This Government is placing the wellbeing of people at the centre of all its work,” says Grant Robertson.
“We are also building strong foundations for a more productive and sustainable economy. Budget 2018 allocates $1 billion over four years to encourage business innovation through a research and development incentive. We are supporting and growing our regions through the $1 billion-per-year Provincial Growth Fund and investing $100 million into a Green Investment Fund to help our economy’s transition.
“We are promoting a progressive and inclusive trade agenda. Our tax system will be fairer and more balanced to encourage investment in the productive economy.
“This Government is looking ahead to the next 30 years. We are managing our economy responsibly and providing the critical public services we need to build foundations for our future,” says Grant Robertson.