OECD Report Criticises Govt's Economic Direction

Published: Fri 12 Dec 2003 09:24 AM
OECD Report Criticises Govt's Economic Direction
Thursday 11 Dec 2003 Deborah Coddington Press Releases -- Economy
Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen's airy dismissal of the latest OECD report on the New Zealand economy, as a `difference of opinion', should not go unchallenged, ACT New Zealand Associate Finance Spokesman Deborah Coddington said today.
"The report pulls its punches, but the general thrust is not favourable to this Labour Government," Miss Coddington said.
"The opening words, where the reforms undertaken by Sir Roger Douglas - and continued by Ruth Richardson - are credited with `underpinning this improved [economic] performance', are at odds with Prime Minister Helen Clark's repeated claims that the economy `marked time' in the 1990s due to `the failed policies of the past'.
"The report then makes recommendations - including tax cuts and the removal of tariffs - needed to lift our living standards. Recommendations Labour is likely to ignore.
"Jim Anderton's interventions are criticised. The Government's three-sector focus - biotechnology, ICT and creative industries - are criticised as `controversial'. This is OECD-speak for foolish.
"In the labour market, the OECD states there is `a clear trend towards greater rigidities and higher costs', and criticises latest plans to change the Employment Relations Act - a blunt message that introducing four weeks' leave `is not consistent with the Government's goal of raising per capita incomes.
"Adding to the litany of criticisms is a condemnation for nationalising Kyoto forestry carbon credits, and a ticking off for Labour's handling of welfare: `It has moved against international trends by relaxing requirements on sole parents to look for work'.
"The OECD's message is clear. If New Zealanders want to take home more money at the end of their working week, then the Government needs to admit its own policies are failing," Miss Coddington said.
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