Next week the National-led Government will deliver its fifth Budget. It will be the next step in our on-going programme,which has been underway since we were first elected in 2008. Each of our previous Budgets has been presented in the shadow of major events that have affected every New Zealand household and business. They include the Global Financial Crisis, the Christchurch earthquakes and the continuing economic uncertainty around the world.
Our response to these events has been crafted to meet both short- and long-term objectives. And accordingly, our priorities remain unchanged with this year’s Budget:
* We will continue to work hard to get back to surplus and keep debt under control;
* We will keep up with economic reforms to strengthen the economy and make it more competitive;
* We will continue to steadily improve public services, despite tight fiscal constraints;
* And we will continue to stand by Christchurch, to ensure it recovers and rebuilds after the earthquakes.
Over the past few years, we have built up a good deal of momentum in important areas that are helping the economy to grow. This is while many other countries are still struggling with too much debt, little or no growth, or a combination of both. But for us, there’s still much more to do. I have previously announced that a key focus of this year’s Budget will be a package of internationally focused growth initiatives. New Zealand’s prosperity is highly dependent on our ability to form and maintain strong links with countries around the world. Exports of goods and services, including tourism and international education are vitally important for our economy. As my recent visits to China and Latin America have demonstrated, there is huge potential for New Zealand in these and other growth markets. Our government is committed to continuing its work with the private sector to encourage and facilitate more growth in exports. We have set out a clear programme around this; we’re focused and taking action across the many areas needed to boost growth, investment and jobs.
Budget 2013 will be about taking the next steps in this programme. New Zealand’s challenge is not so much a lack of opportunities – our challenge is to assemble the people and the capital needed to exploit the many opportunities that already exist.
Providing we stick to our plan, I’m confident that we will grasp those opportunities and build the brighter future that New Zealanders deserve.