The majority of the CEOs responding to the Herald survey believe National has a co-ordinated plan of action focused on raising the country's economic performance.

However, their comments suggest some scepticism as to whether it is working.

Gross domestic product grew 0.2 per cent in the first three months of the year — the weakest quarterly pace in two years — due a dairy-led contraction in agriculture and the impact on the mining sector of a drop in oil and gas activity. The New Zealand dollar has also been falling.

"The reliance on dairy is of concern," Mainfreight's Don Braid said.


The survey result showed that 70 per cent of the CEOs believed National had a co-ordinated plan of action to raise the country's economic performance, while almost 20 per cent did not. The rest were unsure.

Deloitte's Thomas Pippos said National had a plan around raising the country's performance, but there was not enough sub-planning for the regions.

The link between Wellington and the regions was missing at a sector level, Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett agreed.

National had no apparent plan, other than to create a level playing field, a banker said. "Aka a 'build it and they will come' strategy — 1980's Treasury ideology which is too pure and not good enough for Government policy in 2015."

Their comments were backed up by an infrastructure boss who said the plan needed to be more aggressive and others commenting "National had 'plans' but they don't seem to be creating the outcome we need."

There were concerns at the competitive level. ICBC NZ chairman Don Brash said that despite coming to office in 2008 pledging to accelerate New Zealand's economic growth rate — to the point of catching Australian GDP per capita by 2025 — there is absolutely no evidence of any coherent set of policies which might even begin to accomplish that goal."

According to EMA boss Kim Campbell, the Government's Business Growth Agenda was an attempt to forge a co-ordinated plan but failed to address transport and related planning systems, and had no chance of fixing the housing crisis.

Among other comments:

"There is too much reliance on a philosophical approach to issues rather than specifically thought out solutions" — energy sector boss.

"They seem to be very day-to-day in their management" — banking boss.

"They have, however, done that well. But I don't get the sense that there's any overall vision and strategy to get the country there."

Good for business

When it came to the Government's economic management, more than 80 per cent of the CEOs said they agreed with it overall, believing it was good for business.

In contrast, almost 15 per cent disagreed, saying more targeted programmes and initiatives were needed.

NZ Local Government Funding Agency boss Craig Stobo said the Government was doing well, but now was not the time to pause for a cup of tea. "The Government's proxy for our relative economic performance is relative real government bond yields ... and we are not improving."

Beca's Greg Lowe was more optimistic, saying the Government's economic management was good for business, good for Government revenue growth, good for jobs and therefore good for the country overall.

A financial boss said National's plan seemed more reactive than proactive. "I certainly don't regard the Government's economic management as being good for business but I'm not sure targeted initiatives are the answer either.

"I don't believe the Government has clearly articulated what its overall plan for the economy is, let alone its key measurable strategies to get us there."

A health sector boss said as New Zealand was small and growth was likely to come from exports, the Government needed to allow more seed funding of innovation. "NZTE and Callaghan do a great job of this, but they fall short by not having the budget to invest and are quite structured in terms of how they are allowed to spend their money so shoe horn businesses into what they offer rather than what is needed.

"We think we are punching above our weight and often talk about that but layers of bureaucracy and lack of leadership within the decision makers within Government departments, means we are hugely lagging behind realising the innovation that sits within the NZ health sector."