More infrastructure needs to be developed in regional New Zealand to keep pace with demand, says the chief executive of BusinessNZ, Kirk Hope.
He says, for instance, there are population bulges in parts of the north that are becoming satellites of Auckland city and lack proper transport infrastructure.
"You have infrastructure based on a household rating base of 20,000 in Queenstown, yet one and a half million tourists flow through there in a year. We need basic infrastructure development to more easily move this number of people around."
Hope says the infrastructure must be built not just for New Zealanders but for additional capacity. The infrastructure spending could be debt funded -- money has never been cheaper -- and building for the future means communities won't suffer from growth pressures.
"There is no lack of desire from the government to play its part in developing appropriate infrastructure but the challenges of the Resources Management Act (RMA) is robbing the communities of the opportunities for productivity and growth."
Hope says the RMA is "a convoluted piece of legislation" with time consuming and costly processes and "we should start again and draft a completely new law.
"We need a set of planning and environmental laws that enable communities to feel comfortable their local environment is not put at risk but they (laws) don't impede the development of infrastructure for community growth."
Hope also believes the education, and immigration, system should be aligned with business growth to overcome any skills deficit.
"We have to ensure that the children coming out of the school system are work ready, are employable and have the capacity to engage at a higher level. They need to understand how technology can drive productivity for business."
He says New Zealand businesses should be investing more in knowledge-based capital. "One of the competitive advantages New Zealand could have, given its place in the world, is to be a world class "weightless" exporter or services.
"One of our big challenges is that businesses lack scale. Any service that is provided digitally can be driven with scale -- a basic example is Xero. We could, for example, provide cheap legal templates for businesses and these could be exported as a service on a global rather than provided to a local base."
Hope says there should be more collaboration and networking to match up investors and companies willing to accelerate research and development (R&D) and create innovative products and services.
There is no lack of desire from the government to play its part in developing appropriate infrastructure but the challenges of the Resources Management Act (RMA) is robbing the communities of the opportunities for productivity and growth.
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"We tend to operate in silos and matching investors with companies they would like to invest in is only happening on a sporadic basis.
"We also have one of the lowest R&D spend and there needs to be a mechanism to free up more capital for businesses. Businesses themselves need to take more responsibility in accessing capital.
"They need to think about how to drive their business forward; do they have the skills to do that that; and what markets do they want to be in. This is all part of the productivity mix," says Hope.
Kirk Hope's Top Three:
• Top three business priorities for the next 12 months:
- Grow the business
- Communicate the link between strong communities and strong business
- Cement key client relationships
• What's likely to keep me awake at night:
- Achieving top-line revenue growth.
- Meeting customer expectations.
- Improving operational efficiencies.