BusinessNZ says Budget 2013 shows a careful and measured approach to spending in areas that have the potential to improve New Zealand’s competitiveness, such as a continued focus on innovation, internationalisation and skills.
Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says business will welcome the Budget’s $100 million-a-year International Growth Package, including business R&D assistance, National Science Challenges, the Marsden Fund and other support for innovation and productivity.
“Funding to attract more high-value tourism and to promote New Zealand’s international education sector are also practical measures to boost future export earnings,” Mr O’Reilly said.
“Significant spending across the education and training sector is also positive, although the opportunity has been missed to make bolder reforms of interest-free student loans.
“Welfare reform support announced in the Budget will help the move to assist welfare recipients into work, using an ‘investment approach’ – another improvement to the potential for greater employment.
“Moves to improve the provision of social housing by extending the rent subsidy scheme to charities and non-government providers, and spending in areas to address child poverty will also invest in those in need.
“ACC levy reductions announced in the Budget will be welcomed by business, however these have resulted from artificially high levies over recent years. We believe premiums should be set independently of Government to ensure they reflect insurance values rather than political considerations.
“For the economy overall, the Government has made a positive move towards getting better outcomes from state assets with the announcement of a share offer for Meridian Energy this year, and is demonstrating prudent stewardship with its progress towards a balanced budget and lower debt and spending targets.
“Bolder reform in the areas of retirement savings and age of eligibility for superannuation and interest-free student loans would also make a significant contribution to economic health,” Mr O’Reilly said.