New Zealand Initiative welcomes new fiscal watchdog
Wellington (17 May 2018): The New Zealand Initiative applauds today’s Budget 2018 announcement of an independent fiscal institution.
Associate Finance Minister James Shaw announced a new independent body to assess government forecasts and cost political party election promises. Consultation would commence in August.
We proposed a fiscal council in our 2014 report Guarding the Public Purse: Faster Growth, Greater Fiscal Discipline. We suggested it to be an Office of Parliament, as is Australia’s Parliamentary Budget Office. This would make it independent of the incumbent government.
“We were disappointed at the previous Government’s failure to take up that proposal. We think it would have helped inform public debate during the last campaign over Labour’s spending package,” said the Initiative’s Executive Director, Dr Oliver Hartwich.
“An independent Office of Parliament could be useful beyond evaluating fiscal policy proposals during general election campaigns,” said Dr Bryce Wilkinson, one of the authors of our 2014 report. “Our report identified five other activities by which an independent fiscal council could usefully add to informed public debate.”
These activities included monitoring and reporting on the degree to which a government’s plans were responding to longer-term fiscal pressures. It would also check the degree to which government agencies were rigorously assessing the value for money in government spending. Such a council could also usefully service Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Committee.
You can download Guarding the Public Purse: Faster Growth, Greater Fiscal Discipline here.