Finance Minister Grant Robertson has given a sneak peek of the coming Budget saying it will include significant boosts to health and education funding while still delivering a surplus.
Speaking at Westpac’s Auckland headquarters on Tuesday, Robertson said the Government “owed it to future generations to be fiscally responsible, given the risks New Zealand faces in terms of natural disasters and global economic shocks”.
Mr Robertson said ministers had reviewed their budgets for policies which did not fit with their priorities and had been able to reprioritise $700 million of spending over the next four years.
“We also made it clear before the election that we will crack down on tax dodgers, extend the bright-line test and end negative gearing for property investors. We are also finalising work started by the previous government to ensure foreign and multi-national companies pay their fair share of tax in New Zealand.
“As a result of these changes to make our tax system fairer, and our initial reprioritisation drive, we have freed up about $1.4 billion of funding over the next four years which will be re-invested in this Government’s priorities.
Highlights from the Minister's speech:
Mr Robertson said the tax take was also running ahead of forecast which provided a little bit more leeway for spending.
He said in the Budget later this month Health and Education would get boosts to their capital and operating funding to deal with cost pressures.
Housing initiatives would also receive a boost on top of the $2 billion announced in the December mini-Budget for KiwiBuild.
“We have committed through the Coalition Agreement to lifting our R&D investment to 2% of GDP inside ten years. That is a 50% increase in R&D spending. We are well-below the OECD average for R&D. We must do better, and we have an ambitious plan for achieving that goal.”
“Our plan will ensure we transition to an economy that is more productive, more sustainable, and more inclusive, and which is focussed on improving the living standards and wellbeing of all New Zealanders now, and into the future,” Mr Robertson said.
Watch full speech below (20 mins):