13 May 2019

More than half of Provincial Growth Fund now committed

6:50 pm on 13 May 2019

Roughly $1.77 billion of the coalition government's controversial $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund has now been committed.

Shane Jones

Shane Jones Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

However, the opposition party is far from convinced the government is getting bang for its buck.

This morning a briefing was held by Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment's Provincial Development Unit, which oversees the administration of the fund.

The update comes little more than a month after the Auditor-General John Ryan ordered a review of the Provincial Development Unit and MBIE officials were told to improve the management of the fund

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones told those at the briefing not all of the $3b fund would be spent by the end of the three years.

"I've always said not a cent will be left in terms of unallocated pūtea (funding), it's one thing for ministers to take Cabinet mandated allocation decisions and it's another thing for the funds to be fully assigned and projects completed.

"In respect to transport, those projects will go beyond the next election," he said.

Mr Jones said his greatest frustration had been roading.

"It does get quite challenging, as the regional development minister, once the pūtea goes to independent entities, via the Ministry of Transport such as NZTA.

"I say frustration because every time I move around the motu, people are invariably hōhā with what they see as the problems of their regional roads, yet we have given some pūtea over for some of those roads," he said.

Mr Jones said he asked the Auditor department to investigate how efficiently those entities were delivering for the government, their portion of the fund.

22082016 Photo: Rebekah Parsons-King. Caucas run. Paul Goldsmith

Paul Goldsmith Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

But, National Party Regional Economic Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith was concerned with how the success of the fund was being measured.

"We're halfway through the Parliamentary cycle and we've been told they've allocated more than half of $3b, yet we still don't have any clear framework in place of the success or otherwise of where the money is being sent," he said.

Head of the Provincial Development Unit Robert Pogou said it would be years before the full impacts of the fund would be realised.

However, employees would be checking in with successful applicants, who will be asked to provide data, which will include the number of jobs being created, training courses additional business that are being created.

Mr Goldsmith said that was hopelessly inadequate.

But New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters wasn't having the fund's success being questioned.

"This idea that somehow all the jobs appear on day one when you make the investment demonstrates how many Parliamentarians have had no business background whatsoever and we do not intend to put up with that sort of cynicism and urban grind against the export wealth creating people of this country any longer," he said.

More light is expected to be shed on the fund after a review of the Provincial Development Unit is completed in October.

Regional breakdown of the fund as of 30 April:

  • Northland: $187.7 million- Investment focus on tourism, roading, water storage, digital connectivity, training and development.
  • Bay of Plenty: $138.8 million- Investment focus on tourism, fishing and aquaculture, land and transport.
  • Tairāwhiti: $215.7 million- Investment focus on land transport, training and development, airports.
  • Manawatū-Whanganui: $83 million- Investment focus on rail, training and development and tourism.
  • Hawkes Bay: $24.7 million- Investment focus on training and development, rail infrastructure, community initiatives
  • West Coast: $151.5 million- Investment focus on land transport, tourism, digital connectivity and agriculture
  • Taranaki: $25.6 million- Investment focus on tourism, wood processing, community initiatives.
  • Canterbury: $57.1 million- Investment focus on land transport, tourism, community initiatives and forestry.
  • Top of the South Island: $14.8 million- Investment focus on fishing and aquaculture, tourism, community initiatives.
  • Otago: $5.1 million- Investment focus on tourism
  • Southland: $24.1 million- Investment focus on digital connectivity, tourism, community initiatives
  • Kapiti/Wairapa: $2 million
  • Chatham Islands: $98,000
  • Wellington: $100,000

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