Why are we so low in productivity?

with Don Fraser
Fraser Farm Finance

Apparently, New Zealand is down with Italy and Greece as one of the lowest productivity countries in the OECD. This is frightening!

The country has a good surplus of about $7.5 billion, farm production is solid and interest rates are at an all-time low, which should stimulate the economy, but nothing seems to be working.

It would seem there are so many handbrakes and impediments to business that many people are giving up and opting out. It is interesting to have been to the US and Australia and find that their economies are much freer of regulation and handbrakes.

We had an English doctor show up in our community about five years ago and he worked as a locum in the district. He said that he’d got away from the English bureaucracy only to find it followed him here and to also find our medical administration is full of English bureaucrats.

ACC – this monster business was started to provide a better system for the public and those injured. We pay into it as a ‘tax’ and they pay out for injuries etc. Their agenda now is to minimise accidents and payouts so they are trying to wrap us in cotton wool so they do not have to pay out.

Worksafe and cones – this is a body to stop you having accidents in the workplace and if you do hurt somebody they will lower the boom on you and look out, it can get very expensive. I wish I had gone into road cone manufacturing a few years ago.

Clean streams and dirty dairying – more regulation and form-filling for farmers. And, yes, I agree a few do need sorting out, but by and large farmers are good custodians of the land.  Farmers are now in the doldrums as more pressure comes on them too.

Anti-Money Laundering, or AML – for any of you who have tried to buy property or lease out your buildings this is another “handbrake”. So much so that I ended up giving this process or form-fill job to my solicitor and an independent company to meet the requirements under AML. It is a real “put-off” and a cost to your business and slows the whole process down again.

Building Consents and the Resource Management Act – I accept that some tidying was necessary, but when it takes two years to get a building consent and the engineers and soil reports done, let alone liquefaction reports on hillsides, you start to wonder. It is all just another cost to business and impediment and big handbrake.

There are many other limitations on productivity, and you will know many I have not mentioned, but this stuff is real.

I hate to admit it, but many senior people are just giving up and option out because it is all just getting to heavy and too hard to do business.

Government – recent polls have confirmed what we all think. This government is so busy doing all the ‘soft’ social stuff and has forgotten that people need to be able to share a vision. They need to be able to see ahead. People want to feel there is a bright future.

So, if you put all this together, all the blockages to business and people plus an inability to see where we are going, it is little wonder that our real productivity is so low. Yes, I accept that we are all working harder, but the blockages and cost associated as above are preventing our efforts and reflected in our low productivity. Move over Greece, here we come with the lowest productivity!

Disclaimer – these are the opinions of Don Fraser of Fraser Farm Finance. Any decisions made should not be based on this article alone and appropriate professional assistance should be sought. Don Fraser is principal of Fraser Farm Finance and a consultant to the farm industry.  Contact him on 021 777 675.


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