Infrastructure spending tops business experts' wish lists

The business community's expectations for Budget 2016 later today aren't exactly sky high. A careful Government PR campaign built around the prudence of Bill English has made sure of that. But still, all eyes will be on the Finance Minister come 2pm.

Business leaders will be looking for clarity around the long-term fiscal position. Are we back in surplus, are we on track to get Government debt back to 20 per cent of GDP by the end of the decade? And where do tax cuts and new infrastructure spending fit into that picture?

Business NZ chief executive Kirk Hope says he is looking for a continued commitment to pay down debt so money can be freed up for infrastructure spending.

Kirk Hope.
Kirk Hope.


But others, such as Pie Funds Management chief executive Mike Taylor and economist Shamubeel Equab, would like to see the Government take advantage of low borrowing costs now to bring spending on infrastructure forward.

"Borrowing that is targeted to investments that have a positive social and economic payoff makes sense in the current very low interest rate environment," Equab says. "Sadly, these levers will not be used by this Government, even though they are at the top of my wish list."

Taylor says he'd like to see increased infrastructure spending on transport links to cater for increased migration.

He also highlighted on his wish list the increased use of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) to increase infrastructure development and the release of more crown land for residential development.

Shamubeel Equab.
Shamubeel Equab.


Some "focus on [the] level of tax multinationals are paying where they are generating large revenue from New Zealand but shifting profitability of their operations to low offshore tax jurisdictions" would also be good to see, he said.

Hope and Taylor both say they would like to see reduced compliance costs for business.

"If they can reduce compliance costs then they can continue to grow and create jobs," Hope said.

Equab said he ultimately wanted to see more ambition to fix problems "not just incrementally manage them".

"The budget is an opportunity to put leadership into practice.

"I am optimistic that we can fix the problems we face in New Zealand - because we are small enough and prosperous enough that solutions are within reach. But I am not hopeful we will see that kind of aspirational leadership in this Budget."

Mike Taylor.
Mike Taylor.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 29 Sep 2016 11:41:22 Processing Time: 485ms