INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cullen Visits Dublin And Edinburgh

Published: Tue 10 Jul 2001 10:02 AM
Finance Minister Michael Cullen believes New Zealand should consider building stronger direct links with Scotland now that it has its own government.
"The view in New Zealand, I suspect, is that the powers of the Scottish government are very limited. In fact, they are very broad and the budget of the Scottish government is over half as big again as that of the New Zealand government.
"We have long standing links and relationships which I believe can be developed further to our mutual advantage. We should also note that Edinburgh is now a very significant financial centre. The largest fund under management there is some two and a half times our annual GDP, or about five times the size that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund will reach at peak."
Dr Cullen said that his visit to Dublin and Edinburgh had convinced him of the need for the Labour-Alliance government to continue to build its role in partnership with other stakeholders in taking a more strategic approach to New Zealand’s economic transformation.
"Much has been made in New Zealand of Ireland’s 10 percent corporate tax rate for the manufacturing sector. This is, in fact, an increase in the zero rate that was in place up to 1979 and is clearly not the only factor in Ireland's success.
"There are at least three other factors that have been crucial and are of relevance to New Zealand."
"The first is a very focussed strategic approach to skills development over the last 20 years which has seen successive Irish governments investing primarily in skills areas deemed essential to economic success.
"The second is an equally focussed approach to attracting investment which has involved targeting specific activities and companies, rather than simply an across the board or scattergun approach.
"The third, and vital to the phenomenal growth which began around 1990, was the building of strong partnership agreements between the government, the business sector, and the trade unions. This was especially emphasised by the government representatives that I saw."
Dr Cullen said he had some specific suggestions to discuss with his colleagues arising out of his discussions.
"I’m convinced we’re on the right track but it is even clearer that we have a long way to go if we are to meet the kinds of targets we ought to set ourselves," Dr Cullen said.
Ends

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