9 Apr 2017

Labour calls for wider Reserve Bank review

9:25 am on 9 April 2017

A review of how the Reserve Bank sets interest rates should be far-reaching and update legislation that was written in the 80s, the Labour Party says.

Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler is set to step down from the role in September Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Minister of Finance Stephen Joyce said the review would not be major and would be focussed on a few technical points.

But Labour's Grant Robertson disagreed and said that with the current governor about to step down, now was a good time to undertake a more detailed examination of how things are run.

He said the reserve bank governor's decisions were crucial, and should be made with input from a wider group rather than just one person or a committee within the bank.

"The decisions the reserve banks makes are an important part of everyday New Zealanders' lives when it comes to what they pay in terms of interest on their mortgage and the way that the banking system operates."

"Having a wider group of people involved in that will improve New Zealanders awareness and confidence in that system," he said.

Mr Robertson said he would be making more detailed comments, setting out Labour's views on the Reserve Bank on Monday.

ASB's Chief economist, Nick Tuffley agreed that there was merit in the idea of a committee to set interest rates rather than the governor being solely responsible, but said there should be caution over who would sit on such a committee.

"Where there's talk of potentially bringing in external advisors - at least some people are chewing over that idea - we've got to remember that while that's done in places like Australia and the UK, the New Zealand business community is a lot lot smaller than what you have in those countries."

Mr Tuffley said the existing legislation was written for a different era, but it would be important to look at the pros and cons of different systems overseas before picking the right one for New Zealand, he said.

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