13 Jun 2019

National calls on the government to speed up Provincial Growth Fund spending

1:59 pm on 13 June 2019

National thinks the slow pace of Provincial Growth Fund payouts shows the minister is all PR, no delivery.

New Zealand First MP Shane Jones answering media questions

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

Regional economic development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said the latest figures showed only $62 million of the nearly $2 billion allocated had been paid out.

"The reputation around the countryside is Shane Jones is very quick with the PR, and very slow with the cash, and that's been borne out".

However, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said the figure was more like $200 million to $300m when including funding for state agencies like KiwiRail.

He was unable to give an exact figure, however.

"I would need to double check because since that figure was assembled quite a lot of dough has been spent and is now being claimed, for example in the Tairawhiti Roads.

"But look, I'm not going to dance on the head of a pin; I want to see a hell of a lot more of this pūtea actually into the economy circulating with velocity."

Mr Jones would not give an estimate on how much of the PGF he expects to be in the economy before the end of the term.

"It just takes time doing the contracting and MBIE has a very exacting process that they're required under the Public Finance Act to observe.

"I don't want to hang myself with a figure because $1b of it is in long term projects", Mr Jones said.

But Mr Goldsmith said it was clear Mr Jones was very good at the announcing projects, but not following through.

"The reality is it's been a dribble out of the fund in terms of money getting to the people doing the projects.

"At the start we thought he was just shovelling the cash out the door as fast as possible, and we were concerned about that.

"It turns out he's hardly shovelling anything, he's just announcing."