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Govt Develops Social Benefits ‘We Can’T Afford’

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Government was yesterday urged to stop developing social programmes “we have no capacity to afford”, a prominent governance reform campaigner arguing against pushing forward with the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.

Robert Myers, a principal for the Organisation for Responsible Governance (ORG), was speaking after the Central Bank revealed that almost one-quarter of the Government’s subsidy payments in the final three months of 2016 related to NHI.

Its 2016 fourth quarter report, disclosed yesterday, said: “The expansion in current spending was largely attributed to a $26.9 million (11.7 per cent) rise in transfer payments to $257.6 million, as subsidies firmed by $19.6 million (24.2 per cent) to $100.6 million - a quarter of which ($23 million) related to preparations for the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.”

Mr Myers, in response to the Central Bank report, told Tribune Business of NHI: “The Government can’t afford that right now.

“We’ve got to get NHI out of creating efficiencies in the existing system, not in spending money. Let’s create these efficiencies, and once we see the fruits of our labour, we can turn around and figure out how to spend that money on a more efficient system.”

Mr Myers added that the Government was continuing to develop new social benefits programmes, which required extra spending, despite having been repeatedly told that its main social security scheme - the National Insurance Board (NIB) - will likely be bankrupt by 2029-2030 without serious, urgent reform.

“They’re spending money they don’t have,” he told Tribune Business. “We’ve got to get business minds involved in these decisions, and work on real, tangible change that results in the lowering of expenditure, then worry about the benefits.

“If we’re putting in place social benefits that we have no capacity to afford, who are we fooling if that system collapses? We’re talking about NIB being bankrupt by 2030, but are still looking at putting in other social benefits.

“That’s just irresponsible, and people can’t afford another tax, as VAT has removed so much from the economy. It’s just reckless,” he added.

“Do the work, change the system up, get efficiencies and accountability, and see where that takes you. Implement a more efficient system; don’t make these assumptions just to make a fool of us.”

Comments

Economist 4 years, 8 months ago

The Politicians hope that they will get re-elected by doing this. They don't care if the Country goes bankrupt, as long as they have been re-elected.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 8 months ago

History has shown time and time again that our type of bastardized Westminster parliamentary system of government is dysfunctional, especially in the case of a small country like ours. It is a system too easily vulnerable to abuse by corrupt politicians who are inclined to introduce government policies aimed at creating a large class of "dumbed-down" and impoverished voters. This is typically accomplished by corrupt government leaders deliberately starving the education system of vital resources, including quality educators, while at the same time allowing unchecked illegal immigration from any nearby lesser developed countries. Eventually a ruling class of corrupt elitist politicians and their cronies emerges and becomes entrenched in all of the major political parties with little difference between the parties. Often this comes about quickly as a result of a flawed constitution that allows the judiciary and law enforcement to be made beholden to the executive arm of government. Honest hardworking taxpayers are crushed by the escalating corruption and are left to feel they have no alternative political solution that they can vote for. At this point, the one-man-one-vote democratic process is so compromised and dysfunctional (mainly as a result of the "buying" of the uneducated poor man's vote in general elections) that the country is well on its way to becoming a failed state usually run by the worst kind of power hungry and highly corrupt despot.

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Socrates 4 years, 8 months ago

one of the millions of things wrong with our budget system is gov't never really explains how they will fund expenditure. my theory is that most likely each ministry adds an arbitrary % to prior years budget and say this is what we expect to spend/receive. i wonder if Hartnell or some apprentice would analyse prior year budgets and assess predictions against reality? the slop bucket consolidated budget process is the gold standard for 3rd world so called developing countries, if you want to avoid specifics and scrutiny..

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