OPINION: Accounts are in surplus, jobs on the rise

Last month the Minister of Finance, Hon Bill English, presented the Crown accounts which highlighted a surplus of $1.8 billion for the year to June 2016.

This is a significant increase from $414 million in 2014/2015.

New Zealand’s economy has made significant progress over the past eight years.

Unemployment is down to 4.9 per cent, jobs have increased by 185,000 over three years and the average wage is up to $58,000.

Our economy has transformed into one of the fastest growing in the developed world and it continues to go from strength to strength.

In spite of the Canterbury earthquakes and the Global Financial Crisis, Bill English has delivered operating surpluses since 2014/15.

This has been achieved whilst also increasing spending on essential social services.

We are able to do this because we have worked hard to reduce ineffective spending of taxpayers’ money.

Irrespective of world events and natural disasters, New Zealanders expect our health services to provide the necessary care to meet their needs.

This is why we have invested $96m to further increase elective surgeries by 4000 a year. We have also increased the number of doctors and nurses by 6100 since 2008.

New Zealanders also expect our education system to flourish. It’s great news that our ECE participation is up to 96.6 per cent. Our NCEA Level 2 achievement has increased from 59.3 per cent to 83.3 per cent over the last eight years.

It is also important to know that during challenging, unpredictable events such as the recent 7.8M earthquake, there is sufficient surplus available to provide the necessary resources to best support affected areas get back on their feet.

Since Monday November 14, 1164 people have been evacuated from Kaikoura by NZDF.

A $1m payment is helping to support the Kaikoura District Council to cover the immediate costs of feeding and sheltering people.

The Government has also implemented a $7.5m subsidy package for small and medium sized businesses in the Kaikoura district to assist with loss of earnings.

The Government’s careful management of the finances means that we have the financial capability to meet the opportunities and challenges ahead – including challenges posed by population ageing, technological change, international economic and financial challenges, or natural disasters.

By: Jami-Lee Ross, Member of Parliament for Botany