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Well-being budget could look more like an annual report, Robertson says

Tuesday 26th February 2019

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The government’s upcoming well-being budget could not only follow a new policy track - but could look different too, says Finance Minister Grant Robertson.

Speaking at a Massey University/Auckland Chamber of Commerce breakfast this morning, Robertson said the government might take a lead from business as it prepares the next budget for release on May 30.

“It’s going to be a different budget, and it will look a bit different as well. It’s going to be not a lot different in many ways to how you do your annual report,” he told the audience.

Certainly the traditional budget would be much improved with a bit of colour and a few glossy pictures, although Robertson wasn’t shallow enough to focus on them.

What he did suggest was that there would be more emphasis on the state of play in the country taking into account wider measures than just fiscals - anything from environmental performance to mental health perhaps.

“The front two-thirds of your annual reports are about the why and the what of your organisation and the back third is the accounts.

“New Zealand has traditionally done its budget by just giving you the accounts. We want to say much more about why we are doing what we are doing and what it will mean in terms of long term change for New Zealand. I believe it will represent a major step forward in terms of New Zealanders being able to see and understand the impact of what government does in terms of their well-being.”

Otherwise, there wasn’t much new in what Robertson told a mainly business audience at the breakfast.

He highlighted good progress on the government’s 20 percent net debt target, and said forecast 3 percent growth put us in a strong position relative to other countries.

Robertson reiterated that the Tax Working Group report findings weren’t set in stone, although he stressed not having a capital gains tax was an anomaly internationally.

There was also a strong focus on the economic situation around the world in Robertson’s speech and how that affected New Zealand.

He stressed ongoing “friendship” with China, and highlighted progress on a trade deal with the European Union - up to the third round of negotiations.

Robertson said New Zealand was ready to talk to the UK as soon as that country was ready.

“We are operating in a world where there is some volatility, is some slowdown, and we can’t be ignorant of the impacts for us, a trading nation.

"But in New Zealand we are in solid position.”


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