Science and Innovation Minister, Steven Joyce hit back at us regarding our recent criticism of the Government's corporate welfare efforts, such as the millions of taxpayer dollars going into ‘company incubators’. The NBR reported on Thursday:
On Friday, Mr Joyce went the offensive:
We have called on Mr Joyce to explain what the ‘fundamental misunderstanding’ is. Instead of rebutting our criticisms of the policy, Mr Joyce has just reiterated what the ‘intentions’ are. Unfortunately even the worst policies have the best of intentions.
We hoped to be proven wrong on our fear that the grants are interest free. Instead the Minister confirms the worst, with 40% of the grants expected to be written off and the rest not even adjusted for inflation.
In February the world's third largest software maker, SAP, which last year posted a profit of €1.80 billion, received a similar ‘growth grant'.
For us, the key question are:
The Taxpayers’ Union, in collaboration with Fairfax Media, this morning launched "Ratepayers’ Report” hosted by Stuff.co.nz.
Ratepayers’ Report builds on the work of local government expert and financial analyst, Larry Mitchell and his work in previous years comparing New Zealand’s 67 territorial authorities. The data was pulled together by the Taxpayers' Union and supplied to Fairfax Media. Fairfax has had the data checked independently and supplied it to councils for viewing before its publication.
For the first time, New Zealanders now have an interactive online tool to compare their local council to those of the rest of the country. Go to Ratepayersreport.co.nz to compare your local council including average rates, debt per ratepayer and even CEO salaries.
Ratepayers’ Report compares, for the first time, average residential rates. The figure has been calculated using a methodology developed within the local government sector to compare average residential rates. Only Kaipara District Council was unwilling to provide the Taxpayers’ Union with the average residential rates information.
With all the focus on yesterday's budget we nearly missed this piece in yesterday's NZ Property Investor.
Ratepayers underpin vested interests’ development ambitions
The Taxpayers' Union says councils around the country are not telling ratepayers about the cost of capital that ratepayers are underwriting for local authority subsidies.
Jordan Williams brought up the issue in relation to Greater Wellington Regional Council and losses arising from its subsidiary CentrePort as a result of earthquake damage last year.
This morning our Executive Director, Jordan Williams was interviewed on TV3's Firstline on what we hope to see in today's budget.
Click below for video on demand.
Caution needed after surplus - Tax Union 3News - 15/05/2014
"There should be some prioritisation before politicians create new ways to spend our money," he says.
"When there is a surplus that should be used to pay back Government debt and give back money to the Kiwis that earned it."
The Government should also put an end to "unfair" corporate welfare, Mr Williams says.
"One of the things the Taxpayers Union is really focussed on is Government welfare – millions of dollars picking winners in the commercial sector – we say that's unfair to New Zealanders to divvy out money to the selected few."
Putting an end to corporate "subsidies" would help get the Government books back to pre-Global Financial Crisis levels, says Mr Williams.
"When we entered the GFC the books were in good shape. What we now need to focus on – especially after Christchurch – is getting the books back into good shape in case we hit some more turbulence."
TV One’s Breakfast this morning had the Minister of Internal Affairs, Peter Dunne, interviewed about the figures provided in the briefing paper we released yesterday.
Mr Dunne told Rawdon Christie that the profits the Government has made from passports have “been returned to people via a lower fee” (click here to watch the interview).
Mr Dunne is wrong. Our paper shows that New Zealanders are getting the worst deal in the world for a passport. In fact, Mr Dunne’s is sitting on $20.8 million dollars of passport fee profits which are, in effect, a tax on getting a New Zealand passport. That isn't 'cost recovery', it's a 'cost plus' model.
Come on Mr Dunne, stop taxing Kiwis for a passport and bring us into line with the rest of the world by lowering the fees and reintroducing ten year passports.
Following yesterday's submission to the Government Administration Select Committee looking at the issue of ten year passports, and release of Jordan McCluskey's briefing paper showing that a New Zealand passport is the most expensive in the world on a per year basis, the PM isn't ruling out change.
TVNZ's reported John Key's comments that the Government is 'constantly having a look at' the passport term and position and 'the arguments for keep it at five years are about security'.
We don't accept that. Canada and the Netherlands, countries which have very similar visa-free requirements around the world have both recently introduced 10 year passports. Is their passport security less than ours??