Con­grat­u­la­tions and com­mis­er­a­tions


NZ Business - - ISSUE WITH BALLS -

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 at­ing­busi­ 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.

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