27 May 2016

Budget 2016: Businesses pleased by no surprises

5:57 am on 27 May 2016

OPINION: Budget 2016 held few surprises for business and sent a strong signal that the New Zealand economy is in good health.

Finance Minister Bill English delivers his Budget 2016 speech to Parliament.

All smiles - Bill English in the House yesterday. Photo: RNZ/Elliott Childs

Full credit to Minister of Finance Bill English for careful stewardship of our economy.

With most of the key announcements made before today's Budget announcement, business knew what was coming - and that's a good thing.

No surprises is good for business.

Of particular interest to our members is:

  • Support for 5500 more apprenticeships
  • Investment in infrastructure, in particular the regional roading programme and tourism
  • SME-friendly tax packages
  • Responsible timeframe for phasing out the one for two credit obligation for ETS
  • Further support for KiwiRail, especially if some of that goes to a third main trunk line to unlock the Auckland rail bottleneck
  • Streamlining the provisional tax payments system is also popular

Our members also constantly tell us about the skills shortage, needing the right infrastructure in place to help them go about their daily business and wanting a reduction in unnecessary compliance costs. I think today's budget has delivered that.

Treasury is in capable hands, and today's $700m surplus is proof of that.

EMA chief executive Kim Campbell.

Kim Campbell Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

We are keen to see more effective use of our money - to deliver what's needed today.

For example, the $110 billion committed to infrastructure spend over the next 10 years - if we could get 10 percent efficiency from that, that's another billion per year to invest elsewhere, sooner.

We need a centralised procurement system which allows necessary infrastructure such as roads, water treatment, hospitals, schools to be financed and delivered, on-time and on-budget. Now is the time to delve further into this.

The $600m contingency fund set aside for infrastructure could fund a tunnel through Grafton Gully to the port of Auckland.

That Auckland has issues with accommodation is acknowledged and the funds set aside will make significant inroads into this problem.

Such solutions to this problem as there are will not be found in the budgetary process. There is a lot more to our economy than housing!

Indeed we are fortunate that we have a growing vibrant economy and most of our problems are a by-product of this.

Budget 2016: Read RNZ's full coverage here.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs