May is the month when Government of the day puts forward its budget to New Zealanders.
The 2017 Budget is this National-led Government’s ninth budget since returning to Treasury benches in 2008.
Every initiative in Budget 2017 flows from having a strong economic plan that delivers sustainable growth and jobs.
I have in my earlier column discussed the broad measures that Budget 2017 has put forward due to our prudent financial and economic management.
Investment in Skills
The Government’s Innovative New Zealand programme invests in the skills and innovation that will keep our economy growing in the years ahead.
Keeping this in mind, Budget 2017 will invest $372.8 million of new operating funding in this area.
The funding includes $203 million for Science and Innovation over four years.
This accounts for $40.5 million in strategic science investments to explore our natural hazards and the Antarctic environment.
There is $82 million for New Zealand’s largest contestable science fund, the Endeavour Fund, to support research with the potential to have long-term transformative impact. And $74.6 million will help meet the rising demand for Callaghan Innovation’s Research and Development Growth Grants. $6 million over three years goes to the expansion of the Strategic Innovation Partnerships Programme to deliver on its goal of attracting 10 multinational companies to undertake R&D activity in New Zealand by 2020.
Economic Development Funding
Economic Development funding of $31.1 million, includes $6.4 million over two years for the New Zealand Business Number initiative to support adoption and implementation across the private sector and government agencies. There is $5.7 million over two years to help meet the Better Public Services Result 9 target, which aims to improve the experience for business when dealing with government. And $15 million over four years will support the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s role as the lead space agency.
Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment gets $132 million over four years, including $69.3 million for increased tuition subsidy rates at qualification level three and above, supporting providers to continue to deliver quality skills for industry.
There is $52.5 million for the Performance-Based Research Fund to promote high-quality research in tertiary education; $6.8 million to support sustainable growth in the international education sector to strengthen the net benefit to New Zealand and its value to our regions; and $3.5 million of reprioritised funding will help meet increased demand for workplace-based literacy and numeracy programmes in 2018, giving more people the skills and confidence to engage in the workplace and community.
These initiatives are another major step towards building a stronger and more connected economy that enriches New Zealand, lifts our productivity, and raises living standards.
They are particularly welcome for migrants who migrate predominately for better lifestyle and higher income growth as well as to use their skills and knowledge towards research and development of new ideas or towards establishing and running successful businesses.
The Innovative New Zealand programme offers opportunities for all New Zealanders who want to contribute to the New Zealand growth story. An innovative New Zealand will use the skills and knowledge delivered by our tertiary system, and the high-quality, high-impact science to help innovative Kiwi businesses to be successful on the world stage.
Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi is Member of Parliament on National List, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Law & Order and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Police Minister.