Several business leaders have suggested we attract the uber rich to New Zealand and they each invest $50 million and create jobs.
The Prime Minister rejected the idea.
In fact, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.
New Zealand has a successful migrant investor visa, which has already introduced more than $15 billion into the economy.
The country has benefited from wealthy migrants, who have saved jobs and created new ones, made substantial philanthropic donations, sat on company boards contributing their international skills and connections, plus saved companies that would have otherwise gone under.
There may be an argument to tweak the policy. For example, the introduction of the infrastructure bonds proposed by the Government last year would create an opportunity for the Government to attract offshore investment to fund public works, rather than placing all the burden on taxpayers.
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The Government could also reinvigorate the entrepreneur visa.
A smart policy would bring to New Zealand a limited number of experienced entrepreneurs with money and talent who are prepared to work hard to help save jobs and create new ones. It would provide opportunity for struggling businesses to find co- investors to share the rebuild of companies without relying on bank loans.
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If New Zealand attracted, say, a maximum of 1000 top-quality entrepreneurs and asked them to save or create at least five jobs, that would deliver 5000 jobs a year. Indirectly, the same number of jobs may be saved from related suppliers.
The entrepreneur policy was changed by the last Government and it is a basket case. After 35 years working in the immigration industry, I have never seen a visa category with a decline rate that topped 90 per cent. Let's fix it now.
As business gears back up, employers will be looking for highly skilled people not available locally, despite rising unemployment. Employers will pay for workers to complete mandatory quarantine on arrival.
Let's get the systems in place now, so projects are not delayed. Every day lost is costing the economy.
There is strong interest overseas from students looking for a quality education in New Zealand. Our universities are facing, this year alone, a $500m shortfall due to the loss of international students.
It's a bit rich of the Government to suggest universities should adapt to cater for the wave of unemployed who may want new qualifications. That is simply more debt to the country. Successive Governments have for years told universities looking for increased funding to attract more international students.
A managed border, including a user-pays system for mandatory quarantine on arrival and health bonds paid up front by students, would really help our universities get back on their feet - fast.
There is a queue of more than 11,000 skilled migrants filling jobs where the talent is not available locally. A few may have lost their jobs due to Covid-19. Many will still be working.
Some of these people have been sitting in a queue for New Zealand residency for up to 18 months. If the Government takes the handbrake off Immigration NZ and lets it process the applications, New Zealand would have an instant pool of people ready to buy houses, just when local demand is falling, and who have confidence to increase their spending.
I am not advocating mass immigration. Controlled and smart immigration has proven time and time again to help build this nation over the past 50 years in good times and bad. Let's get on with it now and not get caught up in long policy processes, because we need the wins today to help our economy get back up and running.
- David Cooper is a licensed immigration adviser and director at Malcolm Pacific Immigration. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org