Unemployment and housing crisis trump Crown accounts

The Government’s financial update today shows its focus on maintaining a wafer-thin surplus has come at the expense of real ideas about how to tackle the big economic problems we face, like child poverty, unemployment, and the housing crisis, the Green Party said.

Government Financial Statements for the nine months to 31 March 2016, the last update before the Budget on 26 May, showed a modest $167 million operating balance before gains and losses and net government debt of $63.3 billion.

“While the Government’s accounts are important, what’s far more meaningful to New Zealanders is that unemployment has risen to 144,000 people and median Auckland house prices are now almost ten times the median household income,” Green Party finance spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.

“The Government’s books are marginally in surplus this month because of delays to expected spending on things like Christchurch rebuild anchor projects and Treaty of Waitangi settlements, not because of any particularly amazing economic management.

“The Crown accounts move around from month to month but what’s important in the long term is that after eight years, National hasn’t built an economy that is actually overcoming the problems we face as a country, like the housing crisis and child poverty.

“Rising unemployment and a huge housing crisis are signs of a Government that has lost control of the economy and run out of new ideas.

“Per capita GDP is barely growing at all – our economy is only growing because we’re getting more people in the country, not because we’re doing things smarter or producing more efficiently.

“The Government could put our economy on the right track by investing in job creation in clean technology industries, supporting diversification and R&D, building affordable housing, and encouraging people to invest in productive businesses rather than houses,” said Ms Genter.

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