The Government is refusing to say how much of the $62 million dished out in the first round of the Provincial Growth Fund is new money.
But Associate Finance Minister David Clark insists the “lion’s share” of the fund’s projects is new money – funds which will be announced in Budget 2018, or money coming from Budget 2017 contingencies.
Economic Development Minister Shane Jones divvied out the first batch of funds for projects last Friday, which included money for rail, tourism and tree planting initiatives.
During question time on Wednesday, National’s Finance Spokesman Steven Joyce quizzed the Finance Minister, asking where the $62 million was allocated from.
Clark – speaking on behalf of Finance Minister Grant Robertson, who was overseas – was not able to spell out how much of the funding was allocated from Budget 2018.
“The proportion of new funding allocation versus spending from existing money is budget sensitive and the member will have to wait and see – only 77 sleeps to go.”
Joyce hit back, saying it’s hard to see how that information is budget sensitive when it was announced by the Minister of Regional Development last week.
After the Speaker of the House, Trevor Mallard said he was satisfied with Clark’s answer and the numbers were budget sensitive, Joyce tried again.
“Can the Minister please tell the House how much of the $61.7 million in the provisional growth funding announced last Friday was new money under Budget 2018?”
Clark said he could not, but did say: “I can assure the member that the lion’s share of the projects announced to date [is] in fact new money.”
In the Provincial Growth Fund Cabinet paper, Jones said that further work will be undertaken by Government agencies to formulate the appropriations, which will be established through the 2018 Budget process.
“The funds that are to count against the Fund have existing decision-making arrangements that reflect the particular nature of these funds,” the paper says.
Joyce asked Clark to confirm if this means no new money was set aside for any of the projects.
Clark said he could not confirm that.
When questioned this afternoon, Finance Minister Grant Robertson was singing from the same song sheet as Clark, saying only the “lion’s share” of the funds used was new money.
“The final details of the split are subject to the budget and we will be making those announcement’s in May.”
He would not elaborate on how much money a “lion’s share” actually was as “we are still finalising the budget.