Budget 2017 is investing $10.2 million of operating funding over the next four years for initiatives to improve the financial capability of young New Zealanders, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean says.
“This additional funding confirms our commitment to helping young New Zealanders to better manage their finances, as was signalled in the 2015 Government statement on building financial capability,” Ms Dean says.
The extra funding will allow the Commission for Financial Capability to scale-up its Sorted Schools programme and its community-based programmes.
“Once fully operational, over 90,000 Kiwi children a year will receive financial education in primary and secondary schools throughout New Zealand,” Ms Dean says.
“Resources and training will be made universally available to teachers and schools that will assist to integrate financial education into the curriculum.
“Teaching these concepts to our kids before they enter the workforce empowers them to make smart financial decisions and effectively engage with financial products.
“This funding will also allow additional community-based financial capability programmes to be delivered. These will focus on vulnerable communities that demonstrate lower levels of financial capability, or have limited access to independent financial information,” Ms Dean says.
“Building financial capability in New Zealand will improve the wellbeing of families, reduce hardship, increase investment and grow the economy.”
A bill that introduces a new public interest test into the anti-dumping regime has passed its final reading, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean announced today.
“The public interest test will weigh up the benefits of at-the-border duties on dumped products and subsidised goods, which are aimed at protecting domestic manufacturers, against the wider benefits to the public of cheaper goods in important industries like new home construction,” Ms Dean says.
“Goods are considered dumped if the export price to New Zealand is less than the price they are sold for in their home market. A duty can be imposed on those unfairly priced goods if they are harming competing New Zealand manufacturers.
“Countervailing duties can also be imposed when New Zealand manufacturers are being harmed by competing imports that have been subsidised by a foreign government.
“By introducing a public interest test, the Government can now balance the benefits to downstream industries and consumers of lower prices, more choice, and greater availability and quality of goods, against the impact on competing domestic industries.
“We need to ensure that the public interest is taken into account, helping consumers get best value for money while ensuring our domestic manufacturers have the right protection from unfair trading practices.”
The Bill also extends the suspension of anti-dumping duties on residential building materials until 30 June 2019.
“The suspension of anti-dumping duties removes a cost on the importation of building materials, which will promote competition in the residential construction sector and ultimately lower the cost of building new homes,” Ms Dean says.
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean today released the second and final part of the insolvency law review by the Insolvency Working Group.
“The Insolvency Working Group was established in November 2015 to examine aspects of corporate insolvency law, and presented its first report in July 2016,” Ms Dean says.
“The working groups’ second report focuses on two important areas, voidable transactions and whether the procedures for dealing with the liquidation of Ponzi schemes can be improved.
“The working group recommends a number of changes to the voidable transaction regime that it believes would better balance the competing interests of individual creditors and all creditors.
“I am releasing this report for consultation so I can hear from all interested parties whether the Insolvency Working Group’s recommendations would strike the right balance between these two important but conflicting objectives,” Ms Dean says.
The working group also recommends providing preferential status to gift card and voucher holders in an insolvency event.
One of the recommendations of the Insolvency Working Group’s first report was to introduce a Director Identification Number (DIN).
“I am also releasing a discussion document on DINs today for public consultation. I am interested in hearing whether people think a DIN should be introduced,” says Ms Dean.
Consultation on both the Insolvency Working Groups recommendations and the Director Identification Numbers will run until 23 June 2017.
You can read the full Working Groups report, the DIN discussion documents and make submissions here: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/business/business-law/insolvency-law-working-group/report-no-2-voidable-transactions-ponzi-schemes-other-corporate-insolvency-matters
A survey asking what New Zealanders know about their consumer rights shows 96 per cent of Kiwis are aware that laws exist to protect consumer rights, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean says.
“The National Consumer Survey, run by Consumer Protection, aims to gain a better understanding of what consumers know about their rights when they’ve experienced issues, and how they’ve tried to resolve those issues,” Ms Dean says.
“The good news is that the survey showed 96 per cent of Kiwis were aware that laws exist to protect consumer rights when purchasing goods and services.
“However, when asked about how much they knew about their rights, only eight per cent reported knowing ‘a lot’ and 44 per cent reported knowing ‘a moderate amount’. This leaves many consumers who would benefit from brushing up on consumer knowledge.
“The survey results illustrate how Kiwis respond to consumer problems that arise, with 68 per cent choosing to take action to resolve their most recent issue.
“Consumers should feel empowered to seek a resolution when their rights are not met. This means being able to recognise when there has been a problem and asking businesses to make things right. There are remedies available and consumers need to know how to use them.
“For those who want to brush up on their knowledge, Consumer Protection’s website has a wealth of information to help consumers,” Ms Dean says.
The full National Consumer Survey was completed by more than 1,200 New Zealanders in late 2016 and can be accessed at: www.consumerprotection.govt.nz
Small Business Minister Jacqui Dean today welcomed the launch of a digital assessment tool co-developed by social enterprise Digital Journey and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
“Digital technology brings a world of new opportunities to New Zealand’s small businesses, and as a Government we are focused on supporting them to get the most out of our fast growing digital economy,” says Ms Dean.
“This tool empowers businesses to take advantage of these digital opportunities with a personalised Action Plan of recommendations.
Made available as part of Techweek’17, small businesses using the free online tool will be able to compare their use of technology to other businesses in their sector.
Businesses are assessed on everything from their online presence and digital policies, to their use of social media, with advice and guidance offered on how to improve their efficiency and reduce business costs by using digital technology.
“Digital Journey found in a survey last year that 92 per cent of businesses saw productivity improvements after completing the Digital Journey Assessment tool, currently available on their website.
“The new tool launched today builds on this with more personalised questions, in-depth reporting, up to date resources, and clear recommendations,” says Ms Dean.
In addition to the digital readiness assessment tool, a panel of digital technology experts will feature during Techweek’17 at a free event for small businesses ‘Keeping your business safe online’ on Thursday 11 May.
Information on the Digital Journey Assessment tool can be found at: https://techweekbusinessgovt.digitaljourney.nz/
Information on the ‘Keeping your business safe online’ event can be found at: www.techweek.co.nz
More than 100,000 employment agreements have been completed using an online tool refreshed by Business.govt.nz just over one year ago, says Small Business Minister Jacqui Dean.
“As a Government we are committed to helping New Zealand’s small businesses thrive, and the Employment Agreement Builder is just one way we’re helping small businesses get ahead,” Ms Dean says.
“Using the Employment Agreement Builder you can create employment agreements tailored to meet the needs of your business, with clauses clearly labelled mandatory, recommended, or voluntary.
“Accessible online, mobile-friendly, and with the ability to save users progress, this tool adds up to more time for business owners to work on their business, and less time on compliance.
“Since the tool was refreshed 127,671 people have visited the site to create employment agreements and learn about their rights and responsibilities, with the tool receiving a 95 per cent positive feedback rating.
“An employment agreement is the foundation of a good employment relationship, clearly setting out expectations for both employers and employees, and helping to avoid disputes.
“With the Employment Agreement Builder and other Business.govt.nz tools such as the Workplace Policy Builder we are making it easier for businesses to create positive and productive workplaces,” Ms Dean says.
Associate Minister of Local Government Jacqui Dean today announced that she is withdrawing Crown Manager, Peter Winder, from the Kaipara District Council because of technical uncertainties about his appointment.
“The Kaipara District Council is transitioning well back to local governance, led by the strong leadership of the locally elected Mayor and Councillors. It is unfortunate I have to withdraw Peter Winder from his appointment as Crown Manager to the Council,” says Ms Dean.
“Withdrawing Peter Winder as Crown Manager is not a reflection of his actions but is due to technical uncertainties. Peter Winder was appointed as Crown Manager to support the Kaipara District Council transition to elected governance in 2016 and was responsible for managing certain outstanding legal actions relating to past issues.
“Following an evaluation of assistance to the Council, there are concerns about potential technical flaws with the Crown Manager’s appointment and Terms of Reference. This does not bring into question prior actions of the Crown Manager, but if the role continued there would be uncertainty about the legality of future actions.
“The withdrawal of the Crown Manager is not a reflection on the performance of the Council, nor was this issue created by the Council. The Council is performing well and in an effective manner. However, there is still a need for ongoing support to address the issues of the past.
“I want to assure the Kaipara community that the Government is committed to supporting the Council. My officials are working with the Council to explore options for providing ongoing support.
“The Crown Observer, who was appointed in October 2016 will continue to support the Council by providing governance advice and guidance,” says Ms Dean.
The Government has approved grants to 32 territorial authorities to subsidise neutering for menacing dogs, Associate Minister for Local Government Jacqui Dean has announced today.
An $850,000 pool of Government funding to subsidise neutering is part of the national action plan to reduce the risk and harm of dog attacks which was announced in late 2016.
“These neutering programmes will help make our communities safer by reducing the risk of dog attacks,” says Ms Dean.
“Neutering is linked to decreased roaming and aggression. Neutering will also reduce the number of menacing dogs in our communities in the long term.
“This subsidy will help the many dog owners who want to neuter their dog but cannot afford to do so,” says Ms Dean.
The campaigns are being carried out by territorial authorities, often in coordination with local veterinarians and SPCAs. Many territorial authorities are also combining this neutering offer with their own offers of subsidised microchipping and/or registration.
“It is great to see territorial authorities making use of central government support to reduce the risk of harm from menacing dogs in their communities,” says Ms Dean.
Other aspects of the national action plan launched last year will be progressed in 2017. This includes a bill to require the licensing of high-risk dog owners, which is expected to be introduced later this year.
The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) has been ranked number one in the world for its online capabilities by the World Trademark Review says Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean.
“We are focused as a Government on providing an environment and the tools to help kiwi businesses get ahead, and it is great to have the efforts of IPONZ recognised on the international stage,” says Ms Dean.
“Whether registering for a patent, trade mark, design or plant variety right, it is easy for New Zealand businesses and entrepreneurs to apply for intellectual property (IP) rights online.
“In today’s global marketplace, IP can be a business’s greatest asset. Protecting brands, ideas and innovations help businesses to compete and stand out from the crowd.
“IPONZ was the first IP office in the world to move to a 100 per cent online model, making it simpler and cheaper for its clients to secure IP rights and get on with doing business,” says Ms Dean.
For these rankings, World Trademark Review compared IPONZ to the top 40 trade mark offices around the world. IPONZ was praised both for its online model, and as the only office in the world to offer third party access to its Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), allowing businesses to plug into the IPONZ system directly, reducing administrative effort, and increasing their access to information from the IP registers.
“These innovations from IPONZ are part of what makes New Zealand such a great place to do business, as highlighted by New Zealand’s number one ranking in the World Bank Ease of doing business report,” says Ms Dean.
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean today welcomed the release of FMA guidance intended to make basic advice about KiwiSaver available to more New Zealanders.
“Some of the most important financial decisions kiwis make are joining KiwiSaver, and working out what type of fund to invest in,” says Ms Dean
“The guidance makes it clear that a lot of simple advice about KiwiSaver falls within the category of ‘class advice’ that can be provided by any person permitted to give financial advice.
“The new guidance will give confidence in the industry to provide key information and basic advice to help consumers make more-informed choices about KiwiSaver.
“As well as making it easier for people to access basic advice about KiwiSaver, the Government is also making changes to ensure people receive key information about their KiwiSaver investment through their annual statement.
“From next year all KiwiSaver providers will need to include fees in dollars in annual statements, state the total amount the investor’s fund has grown or decreased by, and a summary of the money that has gone into and out of the investor’s account over the year.
“For any other service you would expect to know the fees you’re paying – KiwiSaver investments should be no different,” says Ms Dean.
For more information on the Financial Advisers Act 2008 and to read the draft Bill see www.mbie.govt.nz/faareview
The FMA guidance document is here: https://fma.govt.nz/assets/Guidance/170309-Guidance-note-KiwiSaver-sales-and-advice.pdf
An infographic with the 5 pointers for consumers on what to consider before transferring their KiwiSaver is here: https://fma.govt.nz/assets/images/Consumer-section/170306-5-Qs-Before-Moving-Your-KiwiSaver.pdf