A lofty ambition worth aiming for, and an acknowledgment that more, and better, can be done: Prime Minister Bill English wrote, while he was still finance minister, that progress on monitoring the Government’s investments & assets was encouraging, but added: “The job is not done.”
Then, in Treasury’s investment management annual report, out today, he wrote: “More action & innovation is needed to continue to improve in important areas such as benefits & asset management. I expect active stewardship from the [Government] corporate centre, so that the investment system delivers the best value for New Zealanders, not just today but for decades to come.”
Budget & public services deputy secretary Struan Little says in the report the Government is investing in 508 significant projects with a combined whole-of-life cost of $87 billion (up 9 projects & $13 billion from the starting point a year ago): “These investments are being delivered by 53 agencies, across 11 sectors, and 38% of them are being worked on collaboratively. In addition, the Government uses fixed assets worth $93 billion to provide public services and enable social & economic development.”
One early warning in the report: Immigration will continue to rise. The report says: “Immigration is a critical enabler of New Zealand’s economic growth, and New Zealand has one of the highest per capita inflows of migrants in the OECD. Migrants create jobs and build diverse communities – they bring skills & talents that help make local firms more productive & globally competitive.
“New Zealand competes internationally for skilled migrants, students & visitors. Immigration NZ is a global operation that facilitates travel while managing immigration-related risk.
“Immigration volumes have increased by 51% since 2011-12, and are expected to rise further, which means growing demand for Immigration NZ’s services as visa applications increase.”
The report notes:
- One in 4 of all workers in New Zealand are migrants; in Auckland the figure is 44%
- 3 million visitors arrived in New Zealand in the June year 2016, the highest ever annual total
- International visitors spent more than $10.3 billion in the last financial year
- More than 105,000 student visas were approved in 2015-16
- International education is worth $3.1 billion to the economy each year and supports 30,000 jobs
- Business investor migrants have invested over $4.8 billion since 2009.
Immigration NZ said over 100,000 online applications had already been received on its transformed visa processing service.
The report says 55% of the portfolio by number of projects, and 48% by whole-of-life cost, is being delivered to benefit specific areas – referred to in this report as ‘regional investment’.
40% of regional investment ($16.8 billion by whole-of-life cost) continues to be targeted at the Auckland region, and $12 billion of that is in transport, including the new western ring route, a 48km alternative route around the isthmus to improve network resilience & travel time reliability. Its total expected cost of $2 billion makes it the biggest project ever undertaken by the NZ Transport Agency.
Agencies use a 3-point scale for their performance reports, while the corporate centre & gateway reviews use a 5-point scale to assess projects. Treasury says it’s considering how to better get consistency in assessing project performance.
Data on performance showed the portfolio continued to perform well based on agencies’ self-assessment. 69% of the portfolio was assessed as green, compared to 58% last year.
27 July 2016: First ratings out on government agencies’ management
1 December 2015: Major project transparency brings Christchurch consternation
Attribution: Treasury report & release.