The Taxpayers’ Union says the taxpayer funded lolly scramble for tourism ventures is morally wrong:
New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “The latest round of funding by the Government’s COVID-19 tourism rescue package demonstrates how completely arbitrary, unfair, and wasteful this corporate welfare programme is.”
“The lucky recipients include river cruise companies, spa resorts, and helicopter tour operators. While we’re sure these companies have struggled with effects of the pandemic, so have their competitors who aren’t getting handouts.”
“While 130 applicants were successful, another 170 were turned down, and many more potential applicants would have lacked the knowledge or confidence to navigate the bureaucratic grant process. When politicians give taxpayer money to select grant applicants, they distort the market, rewarding companies that devote resources to impressing bureaucrats, and making it easier for those companies to put their self-sufficient competitors out of business. That’s not just wasteful, it’s morally repugnant.”
“We’re calling on all political parties to pledge an end to ad hoc COVID handouts, and instead introduce fairer, less discriminating measures. For example, a temporary cut to GST could motivate New Zealanders to bring forward their holiday plans and spend more. Alternatively, lower excise tax on petrol could make the Kiwi road trip great again.”
A government who took seriously the knowledge that every cent it’s spending is borrowed would not be throwing money at businesses in this way.
Most businesses involved in tourism will have been, and continue to be, hard hit by the impacts of Covid-19 and our closed borders. That isn’t an excuse for giving some money that allows them to compete unfairly with others that missed out on, or didn’t apply for, grants.
What will the money do and what will the businesses do if/when it runs out and the border is still closed?
The responsibility for the viability of these companies is first and foremost that of their shareholders, not taxpayers.