Rotorua Daily Post: Government surplus means greater options

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Four years ago, following the Canterbury earthquakes and Global Financial Crisis, the National-led Government set a target of achieving a surplus for the 2014/15 year.

The final numbers are in, confirming the Government’s books are back in surplus. This is a significant milestone and one we can all take great pride in.

The $414 million surplus in the year to 30 June 2015 is a huge turnaround on a more than $18 billion deficit New Zealand faced in in 2011.

It makes us one of the first developed countries to get its books back in a strong position following the global financial crisis

By setting a path back to surplus and running a clear economic plan to support growth, more jobs and higher incomes, National is providing opportunities for New Zealanders and their families to get ahead.

We’ve worked hard to get on top of spending and to deliver better public services within tight financial constraints. We’ve focused on getting better results from taxpayers’ money, particularly for our most vulnerable people. We’ve seen support for families with children increase for the first time in 25 years, delivering help for those who most need it.

The government must remain focused on managing the Crown’s finances in a sensible and responsible manner, to pay down debt, and on building a more productive and competitive economy.

Getting back to surplus is part of our wider plan to build an economy that is far more productive, more efficient, and more globally connected than ever before.

As a result of stable, responsible management the economy is growing. It recently registered its 18th consecutive quarter of expansion to deliver annual growth of 2.4 per cent in June 2015.

Rotorua is sharing in this growth. In the June quarter of this year, Rotorua’s GDP grew by 4.3%, and in the year to June it was up 3.3% - higher than the national average. We are seeing investment in many sectors and following a very strong summer and good winter visitor numbers to our city remain high. All indicators are that this growth will continue.

The country has also had 11 straight quarters of job growth, with 69,000 more jobs in the last year. The average annual wage is now over $57,000 for the first time – that’s $10,000 more than when we first came into office in 2008.

We’ve recorded five years of positive household savings – the first time this has happened in a generation. Very low interest rates are helping households and businesses.

Our country has high labour market participation and a near-record high employment rate.  

We’ve just successfully completed the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – New Zealand’s biggest ever trade deal – which is expected to benefit our economy by $2.7 billion by 2030.

This agreement is of particular benefit to Rotorua. It delivers tariff free trade access to 800 million consumers in 11 counties for almost every product and services we produce. It will be a boost to the forestry industry who will be able to export processed timber at more competitive rates. It is exceptionally good for lamb, beef and kiwifruit farmers and offers increased preferential access for dairy. It will encourage investment in our local economy which in turn will create more jobs.

This year we’ve also signed a free trade deal with Korea. This means we now have free trade agreements with our top five trading partners: Australia, China, United States, Japan and Korea.

The outlook continues to be for ongoing moderate growth delivering jobs and higher incomes for New Zealanders.

The plan is working; our economy is performing well – in fact better than almost every other OECD nation. With continued careful management of the government books, and particular focus on keeping taxes low with spending under control, this strength in the economy will continue to grow.