Wednesday, October 24, 2012

NZ easy for business

According to the new report form the World Bank, New Zealand is a great place to do business, and for several reasons. To ask the obvious question, what on earth has the rightwing been bleating on about?

The report, Doing Business 2013: Smarter Regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises looks at 185 economies and says:
“Starting a business is easiest in New Zealand, where it takes 1 procedure, 1 day, less than 1% of income per capita and no paid-in minimum capital.”
This is quite an important thing, since new business can mean new jobs and new economic growth, both faster than from established businesses.

As it happens, New Zealand also ranked third easiest nation in the world in which to do business; Singapore was first, Hong Kong was second. Among countries I write about on this blog, the USA was fourth, the UK was seventh, Australia was tenth and Canada was 17th.

The good news doesn’t end there:
“New Zealand provides the strongest minority investor protections as measured by Doing Business, ranking highest in this area for the eighth year in a row.”
In the same rankings, Canada was fourth equal (with Malaysia), the USA sixth equal (with Columbia, Ireland and Israel), and the UK was tenth. Australia didn’t make the top ten.

Most interestingly, the report also ranks New Zealand sixth in the world for ease of obtaining construction permits, a fact that will come as a surprise to many New Zealanders after listening to conservatives constantly moaning about what a barrier to business the Resource Management Act is, or how bad councils supposedly are at managing the process. Turns out—not so bad, after all. Also, none of the countries I write about made the top ten easiest.

The first three points—ease of starting a business, ease of doing business overall and investor protection—were mentioned in the New Zealand Herald story on the report, but the last one wasn’t, and for good reason: Bias.

The Herald is a conservative newspaper and has long championed rightwing economic views, particularly about how the Resource Management Act (RMA) is supposedly restraining business. It has also long had an obvious vendetta against Auckland government, for which the Herald’s constant theme is that local government is wasteful, overly bureaucratic, inefficient, incompetent and costs too much. This ideology meant that they couldn’t possibly report that, contrary to their constant droning, New Zealand is better at managing construction permits than any of our biggest trading partners.

The current conservative National/Act government is even worse: They constantly run down New Zealand, claim that the rest of the world is much more business-friendly, and declare we need to change what we do to “become” business-friendly. But if we’re already at the top of so many world tables—often at the very top—then what on earth are these supposed “reforms” actually for?

It’s pretty obvious that the current government isn’t advocating real reform: It’s advocating ideology, and working to make New Zealand better for corporate elites, most foreign-owned, at the expense of ordinary New Zealanders, who will pay the price.

The World Bank is definitely not even a remotely lefty organisation. I think their report shows that sometimes it takes strangers to see how good things really are here, especially in comparison to other countries. And it also shows that sometimes we need a conservative viewpoint to show us how wrong our own conservatives really are.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have friends (one in particular who is building an online platform for change) who are constantly running down NZ in this area. Even his full experience of living/working in other countries can't change the facts as you show them. Damned interesting ! I can also see now why the banks he is approaching are unwilling to give him a merchant account.