Last week the government launched its Economic Development Plan. Now, yes, we are two years into the government so it’s a wee bit late. But this kind of stuff is still worth doing.
At a fairly high level, these are its aims:
The pdf of it is here, in a mercifully brief and succinct form.
Now, the above crosses a whole bunch of areas you don’t normally see in such a plan. Usually they have a much narrower range. I liked that.
I also liked that it was really hard for the opposition to argue with any of it. The things being aimed for are intuitively useful no matter whether the blue or red teams are in.
I’m interested that it mentions specific strategies for industry sectors. That takes a whole lot of organizing, and once done it’s really hard to make all that bureaucratic effort worthwhile. But for a small country with pretty narrow specialities and really narrow bunch of companies working in any one area, we could always do with some actual coherence and cooperation against the big competitive world.
I didn’t like its post-hoc reasoning to cover broad previously announced policy areas, some of which even the government acknowledges haven’t worked, such as its tertiary fees policy. I also didn’t like that it didn’t have the courage to state what kind of country it wanted as a result of this plan. It knows what the challenges were, sketched out some of the opportunities, but had none of the reach of the Growth and Innovation Plan from back in the day. Doesn’t join all its dots into something that makes a YES! of sense.
Which is a bit of a shame given all the initiatives scanned within it.
And rather than being rolled out with confidence and brio with style and oodles of cash and fireside chats and aged spirits sipped, the whole thing has plopped without ripple like the proverbial dead gumboot of wonkery into the silage pond of media history. 1968 National Development Conference it was not.
But like a mid-episode reveal in a Welsh detective show, guaranteed the same plan will be pulled out stinking from that same pond next term, water blasted off, given a fresh straw hat and a false teeth smile by the next lot.
It also comes with indicators, which is a reasonably easy thing to do when economic times are still good as they are, but a mean-assed bite on the Ministerial ass when they start sliding and you have to start scrabbling round for interventionist techniques that don’t exist and bureaucrats run from. But that surely is what such a plan is for.
However (ahem), for those who want a bit of coherence out of this government’s approach to the economy, this is not a bad place to start. Next time, team, could we have it ready before election day.