Congratulations and commiserations
ASHLEY BALLS SENDS HIS CONGRATULATIONS. NEW ZEALAND NOW RANKS TOP IN WORLD FOR SOMETHING THAT ISN’T RUGBY RELATED. BUT ALL IS NOT ROSY IN AOTEAROA.
THE RECENTLY published (2016) report by the World Bank concludes that New Zealand is the top country of 190 surveyed for ‘doing business’.
This is a cause for real celebration as the survey is highly regarded. It is not an opinion poll but a thoroughly researched project that examines a large range of business criteria. These include:
In addition to the above general topics, more details are garnered under the heading of Labour Market Regulation where a range of matters to do with hiring, working hours, redundancy rules, redundancy cost and job quality are compared. Here again New Zealand does startlingly well and overall outperforms all its major competitors.
The complete survey results can be seen at www.doingbusiness.org/ rankings.
The message is clear; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The climate for business in New Zealand is more benign and simpler to navigate than anywhere else. If you are having trouble, take time to consider that in any other country it would be more difficult.
This doesn’t mean New Zealand is perfect; there are increasing signals concerning corruption, with Transparency International voicing concerns about a growing problem.
Again, business should ask itself if corruption is considered manageable elsewhere why should New Zealand be any different? Recent cases concerning public sector procurement have made it clear that corruption exists in New Zealand and has been here for a long while.
Having lived in several countries it is clear to me that the perception and acceptance of corruption is a cultural issue. In the UK and New Zealand it is not talked about and believed, wrongly, to be something that happens elsewhere – whereas in Spain it was mentioned last week by the King no less, during his state opening of Parliament.
In addition, there are countless cases currently before the courts that openly implicate the governing party. Having experienced relatively small scale corruption in both countries (New Zealand and Spain) it is easier to deal with in Spain where they are over the ‘denial’ phase and accept that it is a problem that must be dealt with.
Having spent time looking at the full report my statistical bent inclined me to turn to other areas to see what international comparisons were worth undertaking. Such exercises are fraught with danger as countries’ data collection methods vary and fiscal comparison is not straightforward even when Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) is applied. In addition, reporting periods are not always congruent, recent data frequently gets updated and there is seasonal variation.
However, when taking these into account there are far more important areas for consideration than the business climate – as studied by the World Bank.
Areas for concern include: • Violent crime (murder, sexual
assault and robbery). • Hospital beds per 100,000 population (EU average 521, NZ below 300). • Healthcare spend per capita and whether it is free at the point of delivery1. • The number of frontline police
officers per capita. • Work accidents (Health and
Safety). • Road traffic accidents resulting in
injury or death. • Child poverty and homelessness. • Wage and salary rates and
All the above criteria are in stark contrast to the business survey and in some cases show performance that is twice as bad in New Zealand as elsewhere, even when comparing with First World democracies.
Prices are also an area for concern and have become worse since the NZD increased in value. This may make overseas holidays cheap for Kiwis but the reverse is also true. New Zealand is a very expensive, if desirable, destination to visit or reside in. In my own direct experience my family living expenses in a city in Spain are half or less than in metropolitan New Zealand. A glance at PPP-adjusted wage rates show Spain with US$34,000 and New Zealand with US$29,5002.
Comparison is always problematic, but even when you attempt to iron the wrinkles there’s still a lot of work to be done if the soubriquet ‘Godzone’ is to have any real meaning.