The Prime Minister today delivered a pre-Budget speech vowing "significant" investments into core services while announcing her government was joining forces with Business NZ and Council of Trade Unions to prepare the business community for the future.
Jacinda Ardern spoke to Business NZ in Wellington today to outline the country's economic plan ahead of the Budget 2018, on May 17, "without giving too much away, of course", she said.
"We have already spelled out our ambitious agenda to improve the wellbeing and living standards of New Zealanders through sustainable, productive and inclusive growth. Now we want to work with business and investors to get on with it and to deliver shared prosperity for all," Ms Ardern said.
Despite keeping Budget 2018 cards close to her chest, the PM said New Zealand will see "a clear plan to build a robust, more resilient economy", with "significant investments" into critical core services.
"We know we have to live within our means and we will."
"We will operate budget surpluses, bar significant events like a Global Financial Crisis or an earthquake. We will get net Crown debt to 20 percent, Crown spending will sit at roughly 30 percent of GDP, and at the same time we will invest in the infrastructure we need," she said.
Ms Ardern said the Budget will have increases in public investment, alongside incentives for business.
"This Government will make targeted investments to address our social and infrastructure deficits. The critical public services we rely on, such as transport, health, housing and education, must be adequately funded so they function well."
Alongside the already revealed $28 billion boost with Auckland Council to improve the city's transport, Ms Ardern mentioned the existing $1 billion per annum investment into the Provincial Growth Fund.
Future of Work Forum
"I'm very pleased to announce today that we are establishing a tripartite Future of Work Forum, bringing together the three key partners in the economy, the Government, Business New Zealand and the Council of Trade Unions," Ms Ardern said.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson is to lead the forum, which is set to look at emerging issues such as new technologies like Artificial Intelligence and robotics.
"The forum will be focused on helping us shape the policies we will need so workers and businesses can be equipped to adapt to the rapidly changing nature of work."
Ms Ardern mentioned security and trade, and her desire to create a trade agenda "that is both progressive and inclusive".
"We have recently embarked on a consultation process with the public on our new Trade for All Agenda so we can build consensus for the framework we take into future Free Trade Agreement negotiations."
She spoke about the "reworked" Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and described the benefits as being "so clear that apparently even the United States, amongst many others, is talking about the deal". The Trump administration pulled out of the initial TPPA agreement.
Ms Ardern said she expects economic growth "to remain strong" over the next four years, with unemployment forecast to fall four per cent, and wages to rise over three per cent each year.
"We are in good shape," she said.
Ms Ardern said the government will report their annual progress "against a range of measures in a living standards framework which tracks the wellbeing of our people and our environment alongside the traditional measures of economic growth" from 2019 onwards.
"Together, we can do this," Ms Ardern said.