NZX blog analyses crisis, proposes KiwiCo company

Holding company for state-owned enterprises proposed

The New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZX) has addressing the financial crisis as the first topic of its blog, launched earlier this month.

In co-operation with analyst the New Zealand Institute (NZI) it has drafted a strategy document on the meltdown, called “Economy on the edge: swan dive or belly-flop”, and invited New Zealanders to contribute ideas through the blog to refine the strategy further.

The document suggests a KiwiCo holding company be founded to run commercially oriented state-owned enterprises. This, the report says, should have world class directors and managers and should be mandated to invest in infrastructure, such as the broadband networks proposed by government and opposition parties.

On the blog, the NZX and NZI have called for a bipartisan approach by politicians to address the crisis.

One of the early contributors to the blog is Trade Me founder Sam Morgan, who suggests part of the problem is the lack of business expertise among politicians and, as a related failing, insufficient evidence gathering as a basis for policy.

“I would like to see stronger evidence-based decision making in all policy decisions,” Morgan says on the blog. “There are too many important decisions made with only anecdotal evidence. Partisanship in this country is used as a substitute for thinking.

“As a start, I would just like to see more smart people — with business experience — working on the solutions,” he says. Politicians would benefit from internship at a “real company” and some economics training.

Morgan also criticises grant schemes and co-investment schemes to assist companies to start up or move into a new area, saying these are poorly managed. This compounds poor-quality management in many entrepreneurial companies.

The draft strategy proposes encouraging skilled expatriate New Zealanders to come home by limiting their tax rate to 20% for the first two years after they return. Some contributors to the blog suggest this is unfair to Kiwis who have stayed in the country, working for lower salaries.

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