There’s no question that it’s been a tough few years for New Zealanders. I want to thank businesses, workers and everyone in the community for the role you’ve played – together, we’re ensuring that New Zealand is well placed to recover with one of the best economies in the world.
As a result, the fundamentals of our economy are strong. We have a record low unemployment rate, economic activity that is higher than it was before Covid-19, and debt lower than most countries we compare ourselves to. This means we’re able to meet the next set of challenges, and to take advantage of new opportunities to provide all New Zealanders with economic security.
The pandemic, and the current tough global economic situation, has further highlighted the need for New Zealand’s economy to diversify and to become more resilient.
Our economic plan is to build a high wage, low emissions economy that provides economic security in good times and bad. This year’s Budget supports the next steps in this plan, and includes a substantial package to unleash the potential in our economy.
Small businesses are a key part of the transition of New Zealand’s economy. In this year’s Budget we have invested in a Business Growth Fund, which is being developed alongside New Zealand’s major banks. This will improve businesses’ access to finance, enabling them to grow, create jobs, and increase their contribution to our wider economic development.
We know that when our regions do well, all of New Zealand benefits. To help the people, businesses and industries in places like the Bay of Plenty reach their full potential, we’re investing in local projects tailored to regional needs and advantages though the Regional Strategic Partnership Fund.
We’re also continuing to improve broadband infrastructure around the country, to enable better connections and greater productivity, and addressing the immediate skill shortages the country is facing, by rebalancing our immigration settings to help businesses access the highly skilled workforce they need.
With our reopening to the world and New Zealand exports in high demand, we’re continuing to position New Zealand globally as a place to visit, trade with and invest in. As part of this work, I’m leading a number of trade delegations this year, with a focus on supporting Kiwi businesses to gain further access and deeper connections within important markets.
We’re also taking advantage of this opportunity to reset and rebuild tourism on a more sustainable footing, with an Innovation Programme for Tourism Recovery.
These initiatives will make it easier for Kiwi businesses to get on with the job and take the best of New Zealand to the world. There are so many opportunities ahead for our innovative businesses, and I look forward to continuing to work together as we take the next steps in our plan.