The Government has committed to establishing an independent body to provide the public with non-partisan costings of political parties’ policies and assessments of government forecasts.
A Green Party initiative, Associate Finance Minister James Shaw says: “That way we can reduce political point-scoring and attempts to create unreasonable doubt about a party’s policy figures.
“That will mean better debate about the ideas being put forward.”
Much of the 2017 election debate was marred by National and Labour disagreeing over the existence of an “$11 billion fiscal hole” in Labour’s books.
“This independent fiscal institution (IFI) would crunch the numbers on political parties’ election policies in a credible and consistent way,” Shaw says.
IFIs have existed in many OECD countries for a number of decades and 26 of the 35 OECD countries now have one.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson says, “We are keen to hear people’s views about the possible functions the new institution might undertake and how it could be established.”
A public consultation process will begin in August.
ASB economists say the creation of an IFI “may well be the lasting legacy of Budget 2018".
The New Zealand Initiative think tank supports the scheme, having advocated for one in a 2014 report.
One of the report writers, Bryce Wilkinson, says: “An independent Office of Parliament could be useful beyond evaluating fiscal policy proposals during general election campaigns."
He says an IFI could be helpful in “monitoring and reporting on the degree to which a government’s plans were responding to longer-term fiscal pressures”.
“It would also check the degree to which government agencies were rigorously assessing the value for money in government spending. Such a council could also usefully service Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Committee.”