Message to Dr Cullen: Tell us how you plan to spend itÃ¢â‚¬Â.
The huge $8.7 billion operating surplus and predictions of more to come reinforces the urgency for Government to address the fairness of the tax system and the strategy of how the money will be spent.
The case for cutting personal taxes needs to be justified against a raft of other critical issues that emerge in the wake of the latest in a string of big fiscal surpluses which the Government needs to publicly explain says Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett, including:
Tax thresholds need to be addressed immediately – It is unfair that the unpredicted high cash windfall is mainly because more and more people are being taxed at the top rates even though their take home pay is barely covering cost of living increases.
“There is compelling evidence that the continuing exodus to Australia of skilled and younger New Zealanders is being fuelled by the 35% difference in take home pay enjoyed across the Tasman.”
Critical infrastructure deficits need to be tackled in a strategy the business and wider community understand and can participate in.
To provide the best possible environment for generating first-world living standards, a strategy is needed to use the surplus for providing modern infrastructure – roading and affordable public transport, high performing broadband, world class education and health services.
Finance Minister Michael Cullen has confirmed that much of the $8.7 billion has already been tagged for spending. “He needs to tell us how much and what areas, and do so well before next year’s Budget,” said Mr Barnett. “Plainly, the proportion of surplus that is already committed is not a real surplus but is debt against an investment programme in the nation’s future development.”
If New Zealanders don’t know what Dr Cullen’s vision and investment plan is for this country’s future, they have every reason to stand up and demand details and some accountability.