If you thought balancing the country’s books was easy, you can try your hand at doing it.
An online calculator that allows people to have a go at addressing the Government’s long-term financial challenges is being launched today by Victoria University’s Chair of Public Finance, Professor Norman Gemmell.
The long-term fiscal calculator, developed in conjunction with Treasury, is one of the first tools available on a new website, (www.nzpublicfinance.com) also launched today by Professor Gemmell, which provides a hub for public finance research and policy debate.
The calculator shows how a range of different choices in spending and taxation can help to address the challenges facing the Government’s financial position over the next 40 years. These challenges result from factors such as population ageing and increasing demand for services.
“The pressures facing the fiscal position over the long-term mean that some adjustments are going to be required,” says Professor Gemmell. “This calculator lets people choose which options they think are best.
“For example, you can choose to spend more on health or education but, at the same time, the calculator forces you to think about the trade-offs involved with this.
“It gives people more information about the range of options we have, and allows them to say ‘How, if I was going to balance the books, would I do it?’” says Professor Gemmell.
People will be able to submit their choices online and those submissions will contribute to a picture of preferred options for closing the gap between spending and income.
Professor Gemmell says the long-term fiscal calculator is the first of a number of web tools that will be available on his new public finance website.
“The website will bring together research and data that will be useful for academics, analysts and policy makers. But it’s also aimed at the general public and at stimulating debate and discussion on a whole range of public finance questions around public spending, tax rates and saving schemes like Kiwisaver.”
Professor Gemmell says engaging with policy makers and other organisations on public finance issues is an important part of his role. He is talking with economists and other universities about including a variety of research from around New Zealand, and from around the world, on www.nzpublicfinance.com.
The calculator is here.
It’s a very blunt instrument with limited options but does give an idea of the complexities involved in balancing a Budget.