Budget 2017 has brought something for everyone, with wide-ranging spending for families and infrastructure two areas that are seeing the most investment.
“Minister of Finance Steven Joyce’s first budget finally reaps the rewards of the Government’s fiscal patience. Strong economic performance with good growth, modest inflation and shrinking unemployment, gives the Government options that it did not have before. And the response has been to provide something for almost everyone,” said PwC Partner and Budget Leader Richard Forgan.
There are welcome shifts to tax thresholds, long held at their current levels. Together with Working for Families, these will give the typical earning household between $1,000 and $2,000 more per year in disposable income. And those benefits will be most felt by low earners.
Infrastructure and house-building get a huge boost, most of it in Auckland; the innovation system gets more funding; the health sector is given some $4 billion more; defence, law and order, prisons, school building and vulnerable children all benefit.
Underneath the headlines, the general thrust is the more of the same from previous years – economic growth supported by investment in trade relationships, infrastructure building and innovation funding; more social services targeted at the most vulnerable parts of society; investment in core public functions such as the health, education, the tax system, ACC, defence and the justice system.
So who gets left out?
“Small businesses and the regions are mentioned in passing (particularly for tourism), but pale into insignificance against the investment in Auckland’s powerhouse,” explains Mr Forgan.
“But the underlying themes show a high degree of continuity, with the Government investing in recovering from the Kaikoura earthquake and replenishing EQC’s funding model to prepare for any future shocks.”