A new programme to build and upgrade roads, rail, schools and hospitals will prepare the New Zealand economy for the future, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says.
“The $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme uses our capacity to boost growth by making targeted investments around the country, supporting businesses and local communities.
The past decade has seen significant underinvestment in crucial national infrastructure. This has been a handbrake on our economy and society, has led to lower productivity, aging and neglected schools and hospitals, and caused congestion in our towns and cities.
“The previous Government announced a number of projects but did not commit any money to them. Some of those ghost roads we have improved, brought forward and funded.
“National said they would and could – but they didn’t. This Government is taking the action that has long been needed to modernise our infrastructure and create long-term benefits for New Zealand,” Grant Robertson says.
“The economy is in good shape. We’re growing faster than other advanced economies like Australia, the UK and the US, unemployment is low near 4% and debt is low.
“Our careful management of the Government’s books by running surpluses and keeping debt under control means we are in a good position to do this now.
“It makes sense to take advantage of record low long-term interest rates and invest in infrastructure to grow the economy. These low rates – around 1.5% for ten years – can be locked in over the long term, making this programme sensible and affordable.
“Net debt will remain low, and well below the level we inherited. International credit ratings agencies have recently said New Zealand has a better debt position than other strong economies, and have backed our decision to invest more in infrastructure.
“Late last year the Government agreed to an increase in Kainga Ora’s borrowing capacity to finance the building of more public housing. This is in addition to today’s package and further announcements will be made in due course.
“These are significant investments in the future of our economy, made possible by careful management of the books and a forward-looking Government,” Grant Robertson says.