INDEPENDENT NEWS

GDP A Distorted Measure Of Progress, Say Greens

Published: Fri 24 Sep 1999 02:02 PM
The Green Party says the latest Gross Domestic Product figures announced today paint a distorted picture of the "state of the nation".
Statistics New Zealand announced today that GDP for the year to June has increased by 0.6%. This small improvement is likely to be hailed as a sign of economic recovery.
However, Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald says while GDP might have gone up, in reality New Zealand is in a state of decline.
"Economic, social and environmental indicators out this week all reveal that we are going backwards," he said.
"Yesterday Statistics New Zealand reported that the current account deficit increased from $4.8 billion, or 4.9% of GDP, to $6.2 billion, or 6.3% of GDP for the year to June. In other words we are failing to pay our way as a nation.
"Jobless figures also released yesterday show that unemployment has risen 9.4% to 213,760 people, at the end of June. Why are there more people out of work if the economy is recovering?
"The low income family survey carried out by the Lower Hutt Family Centre also proves that there is not connection between economic growth and equity.
"We already know that wealth disparity has grown enormously in the last 15 years. The latest survey shows that over a quarter of low income people are spending half or more of their income on rent, half couldn't afford to go to the doctor at least once last year, and half couldn't afford provide at least one meal for their family. Economic growth clearly doesn't benefit those who need it the most.
"And what use is a growing economy if it is at the expense of the natural environment? New Zealand's biodiversity is in decline to the point that Forest and Bird says our national icon, the kiwi, is threatened with extinction," he said.
The Green Party is calling for a modified set of national accounts which distinguish between good and bad economic activity, a set of social indicators running alongside these to provide a measure of how well off we really are as a society, and national resource accounts to ensure that there is a reduction in the rate at which resources are consumed and wasted.
"We want New Zealand to enter the 21st century on track for a sustainable future and we will be putting these issues on the table when we negotiate with Labour after the election," he said.
ENDS

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