Analysis of Budget documents reveals that Shane Jones’ much vaunted billion dollar Provincial Growth Fund doesn’t have anywhere near $1 billion to spend this year, National’s Regional Economic Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Mr Jones has been talking up his provincial slush fund of $1 billion a year for the next three years since it was announced. But analysis of Budget documents confirmed by MBIE shows that $332 million, or a third, of this year’s $1 billion will be spent in the 2019/20 year or later.

“Mr Jones is including $245 million for the One Billion Trees programme in this year’s Provincial Growth Fund that, in fact, will be spent over ten years.

“When asked to clarify the amount of money in the fund in the Economic Development Select Committee, Mr Jones said, ‘for the record, there is $1 billion in this fund, and it will be spent over the next year’.

“This is patently untrue. Budget documents show that Grant Robertson has only given him around $550 million to spend in the 2018/2019 financial year, on top of the $123 million already spent in the 2017/18 year.

“It is highly unlikely he’ll spend the $550 million that he does have if he requires quality projects to secure the funding.

“Shane Jones uses the House for his own grandstanding, but what’s worse is he continues to exaggerate and be deliberately tricky and gets away with not being accountable for his slush fund.

“The Minister must come clean on the fact that this billion dollar fund is nothing of the sort.”

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