More than 60 Provincial Growth Fund projects around the country that were halted during Alert Level 4 will resume from today.
The projects, representing $439.8 million worth of investment, are expected to get underway, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said in a statement.
“The purpose of the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) has always been to stimulate regional economies and create sustainable employment. That purpose is even more critical now, in these unprecedented circumstances created by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Mr Jones said.
“Our regions will play a vital role in the recovery of the national economy so it is crucial we get people back to work safely as soon as possible and for PGF projects to continue to be rolled out.”
The Provincial Development Unit (PDU) has so far approved funding for more than 470 projects. While they are all currently at different stages, and not all involve physical works, they will all pump funds into their local economies, create jobs and revitalise their communities, Mr Jones said.
The PGF-funded projects to resume under Alert Level 3 include construction, manufacturing, horticulture, engineering and aquaculture.
Construction will recommence on some of Northland’s major construction projects, including the Kaipara roading package, Whangarei’s Hundertwasser Art Centre and water storage projects, he said.
Work is also set to resume on repairs to 300 metres of the West Coast’s Westport Airport seawall, which had been damaged by ex-Cyclone Fehi in 2018.
In Taranaki, work will resume on track improvements on the Taranaki Crossing.
Meanwhile, Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest Project and Northland’s Waitangi Mountain Bike Park are seeking extra staff to help clear tracks which have overgrown during the lockdown.
Some of the projects will not be back to full capacity on the first day of Level 3, however.
The PDU will continue to work with their project partners to accelerate work which had been stalled during the lockdown, as well as helping existing projects to accelerate their rollout, Mr Jones said.
The unit will also continue to work through applications and projects to see where PGF money can be repurposed for initiatives to revive the economy in the regions.
Project contracts may be considered for termination if progress is not likely in the immediate future.
“I expect to be able to take proposals for these repurposed funds to my Cabinet colleagues shortly,” Mr Jones said. The Infrastructure Industry Reference Group is continuing to pare down a list of more than 2000 proposals for shovel-ready projects, totaling $125 billion, following a call out for applications.
“Ministers are expected to receive a shortlist of potential pipeline projects in the next fortnight with the aim of getting them started as soon as possible.”