Robertson seeks investment community help for new ideas on funding infrastructure

Finance Minister Grant Robertson wants to draw on the experience of the country's investment community to find new ways to fund major infrastructure, which will exceed the government's ability to foot the bill.

Speaking at an annual Auckland Chamber of Commerce-Massey University event, Robertson continued his charm offensive to the business community, reiterating his plan to deliver the country's first "wellbeing" budget in May, which will introduce a broader set of measures on which to be judged. Key to the government's plan is a $42 billion capital spending programme, spearheaded by the Kiwibuild project, to address New Zealand's long-running "failure to make big long-term investments".

Robertson has already pledged to repay debt at a slower pace than his predecessor to help pay for those programmes, but he and Housing and Transport Minister Phil Twyford are actively looking for new ways to finance new infrastructure that it simply won't be able to deliver on its own. Those arrangements include public-private partnerships, special purpose vehicles such as Crown Infrastructure Partners, and capturing the value of those major investments, he said.

"We need to have a range of innovative finance mechanisms and want to work with the investment community on how to develop those," Robertson said. "That's the only way we can create a sustainable future."

The Labour-led administration has already adopted a regional fuel tax to help pay for Auckland's transport infrastructure, such as the City Rail Link. At last year's Infrastructure New Zealand building nations symposium, visiting KPMG global infrastructure executive Stephen Beatty said policymakers need to weigh up whether the taxpayer or users should foot the bill, and that a shift in mindset was needed to view those spending programmes as assets rather than liabilities.

Robertson today gave few clues on the upcoming budget, although he reiterated health, education and housing as three priority areas.

(BusinessDesk)


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What?! And have someone of the ilk of 'Wunderkind Cullen', buy back NZ Railways from Toll by a factor of 3 x its value? Why would you want to invest with idiot-savants?

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we have owned our railways 3 times and each time we have offered it all on a plate to the likes of Fay Richwhite to make a small fortune from, n fact the fortune was not so small either....each time we have been screwed to get it back....so learn the lesson and leave well alone.

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The Left builds it up, the Right sells it off (at a bargain price to mates who then on-sell it for great profit), with the taxpayer paying the cost and the few making the profit - in both cases.

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The NZ Superfund and ACC could and should help out with investment. Keeping it local will ensure profits will be circulated locally, rather than letting more of the countrys wealth be syphoned offshore.

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Exactly. A huge amount of NZ money is flowing offshore to other markets looking for liquid investments as our market fails abysmally to even function correctly. In fact, it has been stated by the NZX that it wants to concentrate on the NZ debt market. Why not engage them to bring funds in at historically low levels before rates start rising (they already have overseas).

Two birds, one stone. Madness not to even think of this!

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Increase taxes - that’s going to be the end result anyway so just take the short cut.

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Yeah with Cullen on the job, increasing taxes are a given.

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Don't do what National did i.e avoid the obvious tax issues. Allow themselves, their mates, overseas buyers and the lobbyists to make a fortune via residential property tax free.
Resort to short term sugar hit tax take measures to make up for the shortfalls by sending immigration levels through the roof to historical highs in particular the last 3 years in a row, despite knowing full well there was a shortage of housing for locals.
Result of these poor policies, the country is groaning under the infrastructure deficit they have left, rents are out of control, (read accommodation supplements), while at the same they have flogged off more assets and run up debt levels 5x's what they were when they came in.

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Tell the prime minister to stop spending money overseas and using money in NZ. So far Labour has done nothing much for the country. Jacinda is hogging the limelight , too busy spending taxpayers' money. I can’t see any changes Labour has done. She’s too busy muddling overseas. It’s all talk and no action. REMEMBER Labour didn’t actually win the election. The country is a mess. Please plan and take decisive action if you want to succeed. Plan and implement and not jump with your eyes shut. I’m really annoyed with Labour because you are throwing money as if there’s no tomorrow. Public pays enough money in tax. STOP!!!!.

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I actually wonder what moral right she has to giveaway money that isn't even hers? There needs to be some sort of safeguards in place to stop politicians from doing this at their whim. NZ already gives south pacific Island countries $75 million in aid every year, and that's not including the millions that she's been giving out in the past week. It's even more than that if you add on interest, because it no-doubt has to be borrowed in the first place.
When did we get such a rich country, that we could afford to give all this money away?

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Anyone earning 50% above the average wage in NZ according to Labour is a 'rich' prick.

There you have it as to why Jacinda thinks she should level out the wealth levels, especially to her needy constituents.

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I understand police and finance and labour are acting like a person winning lotto But don’t have any clue how to grow the funds , they should be investing wisely not just talking . I’m a public who is so aware of my surrounding and the economics of nz, and always wonder and see failure coming gradually . With labour it’s all talk. Nd no action . Always thinking with their heart and not with their head . And thank you for replying to my comment Evans

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Isn't it odd having a round of handouts to the Pacific Islands. That's exactly what Norman Kirk did so many years ago before the brakes had to come on. Will history repeat?

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We never did and we never will.
Now the islanders can free wheel on a pension and still come here for medical and god knows what all at our expense.
Time to get real and tell the government enough is enough .We want our problems solved and smartly.

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The same 'moral right' she probably thought she had to go to the polls wanting the top job and asking for peoples votes, but all the while not telling them she was planning a family and would be to some extent 'off the job' for a while. I have no problem her having a family, she just should have been up front to the electorate about it. Personally I've never trusted her, and her lack of transparency around that has confirmed my views (although I can't think of many I actually do trust having said that).

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I totally agree! I had the pleasure of being told by the Prime Ministers pathetic office that she was “busy” only to see her shopping for baby clothes on social media? WTF!

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Something I realized a long time ago about governments, politicians and govt departments etc, it's always easier and cheaper to persuade the populace that a great job is being done eg by advertising, publicity and sprinkling money here and there than to actually do it.

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I agree...it is time adern look at our problems at home and dealt with them. Or if she can not do that give the job up. We are not a public relation outfit notwithstanding the performance of adern thus far.

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Where I come from there is no corporate high flyers, no heads of govt, departments receiving massive salaries with no competition, no council heads with eye watering compensation. BUT there is fishermen taking big risks, shearers working and sweating from 7-30am to 5-30pm, freezing workers with annual earnings below the minimum wage, contractors battling climate breakdowns and often non-payments. Hard working honest people.
Prime Minister these people deeply resent the flippant, irresponsible, careless lollie scramble that you are doing with their tax contribution. It is not your money.

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Damn right. It make me sick watching her do it. If those Island countries want to live a developed country lifestyle, then let them do what every other developed country is doing, borrow for it at their own cost.

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We are set to lose more money than that each year handing out freebies to first-year uni students. In the current state, NZ needs more workers with specialised vocational skills like construction trades, food prep etc. but Jacinda thinks more graudates with psych, political science and law majors will help us build a greater nation.

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The nerve of young people these days! Thinking they should have education funded like their elders did before them! Well, I never!

The government should stick to important things, like funding my pension.

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"How does MMP even work?!"

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"The country is a mess."

Well, that's what you get from three terms of under-investment in important services and infrastructure.

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infrastructure funds and bonds should have been done years ago

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The only problem with the govt is that they always offer a very low return. Better returns elsewhere.

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5-7% i would imagine would be very well received

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Those rates would be. But I'll take a bet with you that they won't be anywhere near that high. More like 3.75%.

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Jacinda is turning into New Zealand’s Kevin Rudd.

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The government is introducing the infrastructure tax to Auckland but has not actually designed anything
All We get is the roads dug up causing delays and
Why is there much less congestion when schools are on holiday
Mums taking kids to school during peek traffic
Stagger schoool hours move school entrances off the main roads
The commute I take goes from 40 min to 90 min during school term
The whole problem can be resplved wit a little bit of thought
For example Singapore has morning and afternoon schools saves school infrastructure
as well as shifting the start and finish times
Too radicle for NZ

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When I was a kid everyone got themselves to school right from the first week. And if you were sick and went home early the streets were practically deserted.

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Yeah it makes you wonder just where all the massive amounts of rates and taxes we give them goes too. But then again we already know.... salaries and perks, and 1st class travel, etc etc.

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No the biggest costs are national super and health. The silver foxes overseas holidays and P&O cruises are costing the country a fortune, but they aren't willing to contribute anything from the fortune they are making in gains on the assets they own.

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The government has over $9 billion tied up in mixed ownership model businesses - Meridian, Mercury, Genesis and Air NZ. Why not sell those down and use the capital to fund new infrastructure?

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I'm assuming this isn't Genesis Energy's CEO, Marc England.

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Because a sell down would involve predominantly overseas investors. They couldn't bring themselves to do that.

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Are you trying to cause a revolution?? The last time Key sold off parts of the power companies, there was marching in the streets against it. The don't sell off anything brigade would have a field day.

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Sell Landcorp back to private enterprise. Pretty obvious. $2,5 billion. A win win situation.

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Short term thinking Neo liberal idiots have been suggesting this for years, and yet the value of the assets of Landcorp (taxpayers assets), have skyrocketed in the last 20 years. Why not lease rather than sell? The Chinese aren't this stupid.
It is about as dumb an idea as John Banks to sell off Auckland Airport, which has quadrupled in value since.

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None of this would be necessary if Labour stopped spending taxpayer money - and they are just getting started - consulted the NZ public and brought in some experts to manage the economy. Grant Roberston is just woeful and is not commercially nor academically qualified to run the nation's finances. He is in the hands of officials.

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National did a pretty good job off racking up 50 billion in debt in their time, while not addressing any of the elephants in the room.

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I get sick of this 'National increased the debt' rubbish. Some people in this country need to grow up instead of having knee-jerk cliche'd paranoia around debt. Firstly debt of itself is neither good nor bad - depends on what it is funding and how it is structured. Secondly maybe let us all know what you think NZ would be like today if there had not been increased borrowing to pad the effect of the GFC and fund earthquake rebuilds. As JFK said 'too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought'.

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Your answer is the cliched one, same old excuses.
National was very fortunate when it started it's 9 year tenure to inherit a very small govt debt level, a Super Fund that has gone from strength to strength, and a strong international credit rating.
This gave National ample leg room for "GFC padding", and Christchurch". National despite being in government for the last 6 straight boom years, has done next to nothing to pay back down this debt, made next to no Super Fund contributions, and have left the next incumbents in not nearly as good a state of affairs to deal with any future "shocks".

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How many times do left wing supporters have to be reminded, as commercially naive as they always are, that National had to deal with the CHCH earthquakes and the GFC preceding that. This kick started the economy and under their leadership NZ has had around 10 years of economic growth. And we finished with a balance of payments surplus under Bill English - one o the few OECD countries to do this. It is the proceeds of this growth that Labour now wants to spend and tax.

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CHCH with all the redevelopment, construction, and employment boom, plus all the extra spending/business this brought and circulated through the local economy, was at the very least fiscally neutral, (gst, paye, income tax), many say fiscally positive, so forget winding out that old rubbish.
Plus where have you been? The GFC finished at least 6 or 7 years ago. The world economy has been booming. National has been in this boom cycle for at least 2/3's of it's tenure, and has still managed to leave the country in debt 5x's what it inherited, and the country in a massive infrastructure deficit due to it's poor policy of bringing in way too much immigration than the country could handle, in the last 3 years especially, so as to artificially inflate it's GDP figures.

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Where have you been is the question. Ranting doesn't win an argument. How come even Jacinda Arden acknowledged that Bill English had done an excellent job managing the economy and the nation's finances? The GFC is not over; it is disguised by relentless liquidity policies allowed by Reserve banks around the world and low interest rates underwriting asset prices.

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'Consulting' legitimises what we were always going to do - raise taxes.
Even National we're that blatant. Sigh...

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Two topics but the same root cause, is that NZ Ministries and captive departments are unimaginative and elitist when it comes to working with the private sector and tend to go it alone rather than scaling back their teams and leveraging private sector capital and expertise. NZ provides in effect grant money to the Pacific islands for cash generating infrastructure projects when in fact they absolutely don't need to. A coinvestment partnership with private capital sector teams can fund solar, desalination, or electrical networks and the Government can get a fair return on its cash and a return of capital (but act as the facilitator and offset risk). The Government can spend a fraction if it seeds new project finance funds that can even generate yield (returns) for local small or diaspora investors (this is done in Nigeria and Kenya). The same is true with infrastructure (including tourism) in New Zealand. The first steps are what are the priorities, timeframes, stakeholders, benefits (impact) and capex across all infrastructure projects. Then move forward with innovative financing structures tailored for each project with an emphasis on public, community and green bonds and profit share with the public partner(s) be they investors, infra funds, engineering firms, pension funds (NZ has three very large pools of eligible capital). There's so much creativity in financing that can be released but don't dally, Start and get some pilot projects underway and work with the private sector. I specialise in "impact investing" so even the scale of the projects can be smaller, but in aggregate will have the impact that is so urgently needed.

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Paragraphs please Michael - I suspect that your comments are not read as much as they would be with better spacing.

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