There are big risks to the New Zealand economy from the Government’s message that foreign investors are less welcome these days, National’s Finance spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“The world’s biggest financiers attended the Infrastructure New Zealand Symposium in Auckland this month and the strong attendance showed there’s plenty of interest from offshore in helping fund our infrastructure needs.
“But instead of welcoming offshore capital the Government has been closing doors for social infrastructure such as prisons, hospitals and schools, and restricting other investment.
MUFG, the world’s biggest bank outside of China, said it was disappointed to be told social projects were off limits – despite having a track record in New Zealand infrastructure projects such as Transmission Gully and an interest in Waikeria Prison and Auckland’s light rail project.
“The Japanese lender was warmly welcomed in Australia, where it has funded schools, hospitals and a convention centre via PPPs but its options in New Zealand are being restricted by the Government’s ideological opposition to offshore capital.
“Australia’s inward foreign direct investment amounted to 3.2 per cent of GDP last year, almost twice that for New Zealand, which sits at around the OECD average at 1.7 per cent.
“Overseas Investment Office data has shown a spike in applications being withdrawn since the Government’s directive to the OIO to tighten its rules.
While some in the Government may see that as a victory, wiser heads will know it signals a failure of policy given New Zealand already has the OECD’s most restrictive foreign investment screening regime.
“The price to New Zealand of this coalition Government is very high, be it for NZ First’s slush fund or concessions to the Greens including the surprise ban on offshore oil and gas exploration.
“Turning off foreign investment makes it harder to build houses and grow businesses. It’s another example of this Government doing harm to the economy and eroding the gains made under National.
“There is a reason business confidence in New Zealand is the lowest in a decade, and that’s because of the Government’s anti-growth policy settings. National believes in sensible, consistent economic policies that encourage businesses to grow.