Well, 2017 is going to be an interesting year on several fronts. From an economic perspective, New Zealand economy continues in much the same shape as 2016, with GDP growth of around 3.5% driven mainly by construction and high immigration. Inflation has risen to a little over one percent and interest rates remain stable with no expectation of a lift in the OCR at this stage. We have a new Prime Minister in the seat and an election this year, and unlike the past two elections, the result is somewhat uncertain. On a global stage, concerns for New Zealand are the economies of Europe, China and the USA, where the Trump factor has introduced a level of anxiety and uncertainty in many areas.
On the home front, we had our new Auckland mayor, Phil Goff at a recent GEBTA breakfast, where he jumped straight into voicing his concerns around the 3 big issues facing Auckland, being transport, infrastructure and housing affordability. He was rightly critical of past leaders and planners for allowing these issues to get to this critical stage, and explained the need for a huge influx funding at a time where the AC are not able to increase borrowing. The Annual Budget 2017/18 Mayoral Proposal on Items for Public Consultation has been circulated and is available on the GETBA website. Over the next 3 decades, an estimated $20b is required for new infrastructure with $6.7b needed in the next decade. The Mayor proposes target rating be adopted to fund this in preference to rate increases, with general rates held at 2.5% increase in 2017/18. Obviously central government funding is required and the example of the new Mill Road Highway being government funded and owned has been muted. GEBTA has made a submission on the Annual Budget and this is available on the website.
Keep an eye out for our ongoing training and upskilling programmes too, as I am sure you will find courses which your staff can benefit from, and as always, check in regularly with the GETBA website so you don’t miss out on anything.