Opinion: Less might mean more for the economy in this year’s Budget

Opinion: Less might mean more for the economy in this year’s Budget

Leeann Watson is Chief Executive of Business Canterbury

The release of Budget 2024 has come at a time when businesses are feeling the toll of cost pressures and dwindling demand, caused by years of inflation and an economy now in recession.

This Budget was an opportunity for the new Government to present a clear roadmap away from the inflationary conditions that are hurting right now and make targeted investments that will enable businesses to grow our economy out of recession.

In a Business Canterbury survey of over 400 businesses released earlier in the week, businesses told us that delivering outcomes in infrastructure, health, education and law and order should be prioritised. It appears this has been the case, with the Government delivering a no-frills Budget that appears to be focused on getting back to the basics.

An additional $8.15 billion spend on health and education will be welcomed by businesses, as a high performing education system is critical to our communities and businesses being able to thrive. However, we will still want to see the detail on what additional funding will be made available to the vocational learning system which has been failing those entering the workforce and businesses for years.

Roading networks play a huge role in enabling sustainable economic growth, and with record numbers of people and businesses moving to Christchurch and Canterbury right now, we would like to see some of the additional $1 billion announced in Budget 2024 used to leverage the opportunities that brings to better connect us to the rest of New Zealand and the world.

Of course, it is also important that the Government continues to look at non-financial measures such as regulation and red tape that holds businesses back, and the newly established Ministry for Regulation will be a key driver of this.

Tax cuts, while not the top priority for businesses in Canterbury, will help all New Zealanders and will go some way to easing cost of living pressures being felt, particularly important for small businesses who are the engines of growth in our economy.

The real proof in the pudding will be on the delivery of outcomes from this Budget, and all eyes will be on how quickly the Government can complete its so called ‘turnaround job’ for the economy.

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