14 Feb 2019

New structure announced for Reserve Bank

7:13 pm on 14 February 2019

The government and the Reserve Bank have formalised a new policy-making structure, which will set up a new committee with external members to decide on interest rates.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and RBNZ Governor Adrian Orr.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and RBNZ Governor Adrian Orr. Photo: RNZ / Gyles Beckford

The central bank will now have a monetary policy committee, chaired by the Governor, three other RBNZ staff, three external members, and a non-voting observer from Treasury.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the new regime still guaranteed the RBNZ's independence, but added diversity and transparency.

"This wasn't about a lack of confidence in decisions the bank made, it was about making sure there's a range of voices at the table."

He said the new committee will come into operation from 1 April and he expected to name the external committee members in the coming month.

Mr Robertson said the May rate review should be its first decision.

The committee has a code of conduct to ensure members do not speak out of turn when decisions are being made, although they will be able to comment afterwards.

The minutes of the committee's meetings and the result of any contested votes will be published on the same day as the RBNZ releases an interest rate decision.

The RBNZ Governor has had the sole responsibility to set the official cash rate since it was established in 1999, although in recent years an informal committee of RBNZ senior executives has also been involved.

The current Governor Adrian Orr said there were definite benefits to be gained from diverse views and experience, and it would reduce the risk of a Governor "going feral".

"Why wouldn't you try to enhance the collective wisdom of a committee aimed at a very clear remit and aim for a drive to consensus... where everyone gets a fair and proper hearing."

The new structure does not affect the RBNZ's dual mandate to keep inflation between 1-3 percent and to maximise employment.