Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Mood of the Boardroom: Bosses to Government - act on housing

More than 80 per cent of the CEOs want to see satellite cities and towns built to ease the pressure.
More than 80 per cent of the CEOs want to see satellite cities and towns built to ease the pressure.

It's time the Government did more to dampen house price inflation, say 70 per cent of NZ chief executives.

They are concerned that owning a house is becoming out of reach for younger people.

These concerns are highlighted in the Herald's annual Mood of the Boardroom CEO survey, published today, which collected information from more than 100 business leaders throughout the country.

Housing was one of the group's main concerns, with 72 per cent saying they were concerned that younger New Zealanders were being priced out of Auckland's residential market.

Lack of supply was ranked as the most significant factor behind soaring house prices, followed by increased immigration, low interest rates, domestic speculation and foreign investment.

Bill English speaks at the Mood of the Boardroom event held at the Langham Hotel this morning. Photo / Michael Craig
Bill English speaks at the Mood of the Boardroom event held at the Langham Hotel this morning. Photo / Michael Craig

"This [inflation] is putting pressure on business and social outcomes, and banks are now required to hold increased capital due to the risk of housing market correction," said a media chief executive. "This cost is being passed on to business."

Housing affordability was ranked the third most important domestic issue affecting business confidence, behind Auckland growth pressures and infrastructure.

On average, executives ranked housing affordability 6.69 out of 10, on a scale where where 10 was extremely concerning.

Chris Gudgeon, chief executive of Kiwi Property, said the Government had lost sight of the crucial social role played by affordable housing, saying it had been "lazy, naive and negligent".

Just more than 80 per cent of the CEOs want to see satellite cities and towns built to ease the pressure; 74 per cent say they believe immigration should be better targeted; and most say the Government should fund a major affordable housing programme in Auckland.

Among other findings, the survey also reveals that concern about corporate tax avoidance has moved into the mainstream, with 74 per cent of those surveyed saying multinationals aren't paying their fair share of tax. Digital businesses including Google, Facebook and Apple were flagged as raising concern.

The issue gained national traction in March, when a Herald investigation into tax avoidance by offshore companies found 20 multinationals with combined revenue of $10 billion had paid just $1.8 million in corporate income tax.

In the survey, Sam Stubbs, chief executive of KiwiSaver start-up Simplicity, said ignoring concerns was not an option.

"The concentration of wealth has an unintended impact of perpetuating an underclass in New Zealand," Stubbs said. "This is not the New Zealand way and will bite us eventually. The rich get richer, the poor get the picture - and the pitchforks."

On raising New Zealand's economic performance, 66 per cent of the CEOs said they thought the Government had a co-ordinated plan of action. Overall, executives rated confidence in their own industry as 3.34 out of 5, confidence in the NZ economy 3.41 out of 5 and the global economy 2.57 out of 5.

Another of the survey's findings was a widespread belief that business leaders should take a stance on matters of political importance, with most of the surveyed executives supporting that idea.

- NZ Herald

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