The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
yesterday released a glowing report on the Government's
Business Growth Agenda in a 127-page document which could be
mistaken for an election manifesto.
In a joint statement, Finance Minister Bill English and
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said the
''comprehensive'' Business Growth Agenda was delivering
greater business investment, more jobs and higher wages.
The publication was subtitled ''Future Direction 2014'' and
the ministers said it outlined the significant progress the
National Government had made in creating the conditions for
businesses to invest for jobs and growth.
''The Business Growth Agenda is making a real difference to
productivity and competitiveness, which is critical to
creating more business opportunities, more jobs and higher
wages for New Zealanders,'' Mr English said.
However, questions to Mr English about how appropriate it was
for taxpayers to be funding the document so close to an
election were directed to the office of Mr Joyce, despite Mr
English being the first quoted on the press release and the
senior minister signing the report.
In an email to Mr English, the Otago Daily Times said
it was unable to find anything not going well for the
Government's growth agenda in the document.
His office said the report's release yesterday made good on a
commitment to publicly report on the progress of the agenda.
But there were some dissenting views.
ExportNZ chief executive Catherine Beard would like to see
ongoing investment in capability building programmes like the
''Better by Design'' and easier access to research and
''It would also be good if all political parties could have a
population policy with a view to growing a bigger domestic
market, which in turn would grow bigger companies.
"Australia is predicted to grow by 15 million people by 2050
on current policy settings. What population growth are we
planning for in New Zealand?''
ExportNZ welcomed increased government investment of an extra
25 personnel in China but given the importance and complexity
of the market.
Ms Beard questioned whether that was enough.
BusinessNZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly said some holes in
the agenda needed addressing.
Second-rate regulation continued to load compliance costs on
The Government should be advancing legislation that set
standards for lawmakers to get fewer, better quality laws.
Infrastructure was subject to increasingly complex
procurement processes and unclear regulations, making
infrastructure more expensive and business less competitive,
''We are yet to see any concrete proposals for allocating
water rights, a key need for many business operations.''
The area of skills and productivity posed many challenges
despite the many useful education initiatives in the growth
agenda, Mr O'Reilly said.
There was a severe shortage of skills needed by business -
ICT, engineering, trades and others.
Integrated policies were needed to ''grow the talent
pipeline'' throughout the whole school system, not just at
''While taxpayers are spending billions on tertiary
education, this has yet to translate into much improvement in
our overall productivity,'' Mr O'Reilly said.