Feilding - Rangitikei Herald

Columns
Thursday, May 26, 2016

Bill English will read his eighth budget today.

Budget 2016 comes at a time when our economy is continuing to out-perform many others within the OECD group of developed economies.

Our tourism, beef, wine and IT sectors amongst others, are thriving - and thousands of jobs are being created every year. I'm proud to be part of a Government that has turned what was an $18.4 billion operating deficit in the Crown accounts, into a modest surplus last year.

Sound finances have allowed Budget 2016 to have a strong focus on our Business Growth Agenda, which aims to facilitate a more productive, innovative and competitive economy. This includes investing in the training, skills and innovation needed for a growing, modern economy.

Last week we announced $15 million to help speed up the commercialisation of new technology that has been developed by our scientists and entrepreneurs.

Budget 2016 will also provide $14.4 million over four years to increase apprenticeship training for another 5500 apprentices by 2020. Tertiary education is a passport to higher skills, higher wages, higher productivity and higher growth for our economy.

National wants to help people into employment - and also into lifelong careers.

Of course the new funding will help meet projected skill shortages in high-demand industries like construction and infrastructure too.

Other recent pre-Budget announcements we have made include $97 million to boost to cutting-edge health research; $9.6 million to meet the growing demand for Maori and Pasifika trades training; and $4.6 million for Pacific Employment Service to assist young people to move into training or jobs; Since National was elected, Crown operating spending to promote tourism has increased by 40 per cent, from $75 million a year to around $130 million a year.

In recent days, we've announced Budget 2016 will include $45 million of additional spending over the next four years to further strengthen our dynamic and jobrich tourism sector. This is great news for Rangitikei and great for New Zealand too.

What matters with all initiatives, is not how much extra we're spending but rather the positive results they will deliver for New Zealanders.

That's true with innovation and skills-related initiatives, and it is also true for the many social service-focused initiatives that feature in next week's budget.