18 Feb 2024
Despite a huge increase in the Reserve Bank budget and runaway inflation, the Bank has massively increased its central office communications functions while failing to bolster its core economics function, says National’s Finance Spokesperson Nicola Willis.
“Data released to National under the Official Information Act shows worrying trends in where the Reserve Bank is focusing its money and resources.
“Total staff numbers at the Bank have exploded from 255 in June 2018 to 454 in June 2022.
“Despite this hiring spree, the core economics function of the Bank is receiving less money this year than it did in 2013.
“The number of economics staff employed by the bank is now lower as a proportion of total staff than at any time on record. In 2013, 34 economic staff were employed by the Bank, whereas today that number is 32.
“The Reserve Bank has instead more than tripled the number of communications staff, up from six in 2013 to 20 today. Similarly, the number of staff in the HR team has leapt from five in 2017 to 24 today, while staff in the Governor’s office has increased from six in 2017 to 21 today.
“New Zealanders are suffering from the double whammy of rapidly rising prices and interest rates climbing more steeply than at any time in 30 years. These issues should be the Reserve Bank’s focus. I’ll bet taxpayers would prefer their money being spent on economics advice rather than spin and corporate PR.
“These staff numbers raise serious questions about the Reserve Bank’s priorities in the midst of a cost of living crisis. New Zealanders have a right to expect the Reserve Bank will be focusing its resources on the best advice possible for getting inflation under control.
“National repeats our call for an independent public inquiry into decisions made by the Bank since March 2020.
“Inflation has exceeded the Bank’s target for more than a year, and by the Bank’s admission won’t be under control until at least March 2024. There must be an examination of how we got here and accountability for any failures.”