UPDATE: Budget 2017 has been released. See NBR's coverage here.
EARLIER: Most pundits are expecting a package for low-to-middle income families to feature in Finance Minister Steven Joyce's first budget this afternoon.
Meaningful tax cuts seem to be off the agenda, despite an expected surplus but there could be some reshuffling of tax brackets to allow for fiscal drag.
And there will likely be a bit more in the pot for RNZ, the state-owned broadcaster that has had its budget frozen at $32 million a year since 2007. Most private media organisations were decimated over that period, of course, and would have killed to keep income at the same level [UPDATE: RNZ got an extra $11.4 million over four years.]
Journalists (including NBR's Rob Hosking, Calida Smylie and Jason Walls) will be analysing Budget 2017 in a lockup in Parliament's Banquet Hall from 10.30am. They and their stories will be released at 2pm.
All budget documents will be posted to www.budget.govt.nz from 2pm, the same time that Mr Joyce delivers his budget speech in the House.
Here's a quick wrap-up of what's been announced so far:
- $4 billion in new infrastructure spending, including $1 billion for Kaikoura (part of an $11 billion package over four years);
- $2.23 billion for 34,000 homes under an expanded Crown Building Programme over the next 10 years (funded through new borrowing);
- $2 billion pay equity settlement for 55,000 aged care workers;$503 million for 1125 extra police staff and more round-the-clock policing;
- $321 million for 14 "social investment" initiatives, including intervening early to help at-risk children;
- $304 million to support New Zealand's film industry over the next four years, in part to attract more international productions;
- $178 million for DOC and tourism infrastructure;
- $91 million over four years for MFAT to pursue free trade deals and primary industries to develop value-added exports;
- $74.6 million in extra funding for Callaghan Innovation Growth Grants (four-year total spending for Growth Grants is now $657.2 million);
- $60 million boost for drug-buying agency Pharmac, taking its total funding for 2017/18 to $870 million;
- $53 million for a New Zealand pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai in 2020;
- $59 million over four years for double-crewing ambulances;
- $27 million for marae and Maori housing;
- $27 million over three years for irrigation investments for farmers and growers; and
- $21 million for Battle for our Birds conservation campaign.
Read also Rob Hosking's latest preview: Steven Joyce has some fat surpluses to play with.
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