The Government in Action - July 19th

Coalition Government fine-tunes R&D tax incentive scheme

 

With its eyes firmly focused on generating a more productive economy and supporting innovation, the Coalition Government has fine-tuned its Research & Development tax credit scheme, to allow loss-making and pre-profit businesses to gain their share of the benefits.

The $1 billion scheme, announced earlier this year, sees businesses able to claim a 15 per cent rebate if spending $50,000 or more on R&D, but this is of little benefit to start-ups and businesses yet to turn in a profit. Broader cash entitlements will now be available to support eligible R&D for businesses in loss, allowing them to get the financial support they need to innovate and succeed.

The R&D tax credit scheme was a key policy initiative of New Zealand First and fought hard for in Coalition negotiations. It joins the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund and the $300 million Venture Capital Fund as policies all working to boost the country’s economic outputs. Higher economic productivity helps drive economic performance, higher wages, and higher living standards.

The Coalition Government has already made great strides towards delivering a more productive nation. New Zealand First remains committed to reaching our Coalition Agreement target of raising New Zealand’s R&D expenditure to 2% of GDP over 10 years. These changes will help to meet that goal.

 

 

Important changes to the Proceeds of Crime Fund

 

New Zealand First has welcomed changes announced this week to the Proceeds of Crime Fund which will see the ring-fencing of at least one third of the allocation for initiatives that concentrate on fighting organised crime and drugs. 

“Breaking down criminal networks, specifically those dealing in methamphetamine and other drugs, is vital for improving outcomes in our communities,” said New Zealand First Law and Order spokesperson Darroch Ball.

The Fund, is derived from the seizure of assets with a suspected connection to criminal activity by police.

“Dedicating such a significant portion of the Fund towards this is just one way we are delivering on our Coalition Agreement commitment to a serious focus on combatting organised crime and drugs,” he said.

 

 

Southland in PGF spotlight

 

On Thursday, Regional Economic Development Minster Shane Jones announced Provincial Growth Fund investment in air connectivity, water storage, business growth and economic development in Southland.

The four projects are:

  • Invercargill Airport air cargo and terminal development – $500,000
  • Establishment of a business start-up investment network (Invest South) – $550,000
  • Oreti managed aquifer recharge pilot (Oreti MAR Limited) – $593,481
  • Stewart Island/Rakiura economic development plan (Southland District Council) – $100,000

“These projects have been selected for funding because we know that they will help drive Southland’s economic growth. They will help turn the region’s strategy into action,” Mr Jones said.

 

 

Regions get helping hand on Earthquake Strengthening

 

New Zealand First has welcomed the changes announced last week for managing earthquake-prone buildings (EPBs).

The changes will make it easier for building owners in regional New Zealand to undertake modest building work without being tangled in unnecessary regulation.

Under the old rules, owners of EPBs were required to strengthen their building when a substantial alteration was undertaken. This means an alteration, other than seismic work, that needs a building consent and together with other work consented in the last two years has an estimated value of at least 25% of the building’s value.

This policy was having a disproportionate impact on provincial and small towns, due to many buildings having a low building value in those areas.

The EPB criteria for substantial alterations is to be changed, applying these rules only if the value of the building work is greater than $150,000. This allow modest building work to be done to an EPB without triggering the requirement to carry out strengthening work immediately.

New Zealand First has long advocated for the regions and backs the changes. “New Zealand is a young country, with all too few heritage buildings. We need to protect our heritage environment but make it economically viable to do so,” said Clutha-Southland based List MP Mark Patterson.

 

 

Business Connect platform launched

 

A new digital platform making it easier for small businesses to access services across government agencies is being trialled by the Coalition Government.

The new Business Connect platform, which received $7.1 million over two years in Budget 2019, aims to integrate access to multiple services through a single digital platform, and cut out repetitive paperwork for small businesses.

The pilot platform is expected to be available from October and will initially trial services from three core agencies: the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment; and NZ Customs Service. Other central and local government agencies will gradually come on board over two years.

The Coalition Government is always looking at ways to create opportunities for productive businesses, allowing them to thrive in the digital age. New Zealand First welcomes the new initiative, which will make life easier for small businesses by reducing paperwork and freeing up time to be spent on their own priorities.

 

 

Report on ICCC on agricultural emissions welcomed

 

This week saw the release of the Interim Climate Change Committee (ICCC) report on how to bring agriculture into the emissions trading scheme, a key part of the Coalition Government’s plan to tackle climate change and reduce New Zealand’s emissions. 

The Coalition Government has reached an historic consensus with farming leaders to implement farm-level pricing of climate change emissions from the agriculture sector by 2025, allowing farmers to have the most control over how they can manage their own emissions on their property.

New Zealand First welcomed the report’s recommendations, especially the 95 percent emissions discount to farmers which is outlined in the coalition agreement.

We will continue to support farmers throughout this process by working in partnership to develop an appropriate framework.

The agricultural industry is the backbone of our nation’s economy and has a unique cultural and regional identity that needs to be preserved.

Alongside the leaders of the farming industry, New Zealand First has recognised the need to reduce agricultural emissions while at the same time ensuring the ongoing viability of this critically important sector.

 

 

Winston Peters in the United States

 

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters was in the United States this week to meet with senior members of the US Administration, and to attend the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.

He met with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Asia Pacific Subcommittee, Senator Cory Gardner.

While in Washington, Mr Peters delivered a speech focused on the importance of the bilateral relationship, and opportunities to further strengthen trade and economic cooperation between New Zealand and the United States.

Mr Peters said the talks aimed at advancing New Zealand’s political and economic relationship with the United States, “as well as the Coalition Government’s commitment to religious freedom, and to countering violent extremism worldwide”.

Mr Peters also spoke about the trade relationship between the United States and New Zealand with Vice President Mike Pence. Mr Peters expressed his desire to increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and New Zealand, having not made the progress on a bilateral trade agreement that we should have. A free trade agreement between the United States and New Zealand, Mr Peters has stated, is a priority.

 

 

First Firearms Buyback event held

 

The first firearms buyback event took place in Christchurch at the weekend, with hundreds more events planned before the amnesty deadline in December.

Police were encouraged by the turnout, which saw 378 people hand in 542 firearms, along with 578 prohibited parts or accessories. Just over $1 million was paid out to owners in compensation.

New Zealand First supports the buyback process, with Party Leader Winston Peters saying “everything changed” with the March 15 terror attack in Christchurch. The Coalition Government acknowledges that the majority of gun-owners are law-abiding but that the most dangerous weapons must be removed from our communities in order for all New Zealanders to feel safe.

 

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