New Zealand may be enjoying a strong economic spurt but there needs to be a bigger push into increasing productivity -- especially in the technology sector, warns Kim Campbell, chief executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA). "If you look at the New Zealand economy at one level, the headline numbers look good ... driven by a shortage in the housing market and a new head of steam in infrastructure development where we have under-spent during the last 30 years. "People are building stuff, we have quite a strong dollar and this has given a sense that we are better off. But if you look at output per individual and capital invested per person, then these indicators haven't grown in the last 40 years," says Campbell. "Most the growth has come in services -- education, tourism and some consultancy -- but overall we have not invested in new plant and equipment. We have not moved quickly enough in productive sectors such as high-tech." Campbell says as soon as a new high-tech company gets to any size, it gets bought up and disappears. "The way we do incubation here is a dead cert that the company won't stay here. It may [be invested in] through Callaghan Innovation but who benefits when it
We have not invested in new plant and equipment. We have not moved quickly enough in productive sectors such as high-tech."We have created institutions -- such as Overseas Investment Office, Electricity Authority, Resource Management Act, Local Government Act -- which are inefficient and slow to respond. "We [the EMA] are at the interface where public policy hits the road and we hate to see waste. We tolerate far too much community engagement and consultation." Campbell is an advocate for councils such as Auckland recycling its assets to fund new infrastructure. "When a city is short of capital to develop roads, which provide fundamental productivity, and it invests in the airport and seaport, I see a complete disconnect." He also backs other funding devices such as public private partnerships and city bonds for targeted financing. "If the council issues a bond with a coupon rate of 3.5 per cent and the money goes towards fixing the potholes I drive over, then I couldn't get my cheque out fast enough."