Dawn chorus: NZTA cutbacks
NZTA tells councils to expect less spending, leaving them scrambling to re-do 2021/22 budgets; National attacks feebate scheme for making tradies pay extra for Parnell e-car buyers
TLDR & TLDL: The New Zealand Transport Agency (Waka Kotahi) has quietly told Councils to expect less money than originally indicated because of budgetary limits, forcing Councils to cut their own spending on roads, cycling and public transport in hastily rejigged budgets for 2021/22. (Stuff) (RNZ)
My view: These transport spending cutbacks are forcing more budgetary pain back onto councils despite the Government wanting more public transport, cycling and walking spending to meet its climate change aims, and despite it having $40b in cash sitting unused in its bank account at the Reserve Bank. It will further aggravate poor budgetary relations between councils and the Government at a time when they need to be working to together to rapidly build large amounts of housing and climate infrastructure.
‘Reverse Robin Hood’ - The Government has relaunched its feebate scheme to charge extra fees for larger petrol and diesel drives to give rebates to electric and hybrid car drivers. It was canned a couple of years ago when NZ First objected and National launched a successful social media campaign describing it as a tax on tradies. (Stuff) National again attacked it over the weekend as a regressive scheme that takes money off tradies in Papakura and gives it to electric car buyers in Parnell. (RNZ)
My view: The aim is for a fiscally neutral scheme that costs taxpayers at large nothing. Again, this is more magical thinking that climate change policy can be achieved without either increasing taxes and the size of Government, or inconveniencing too many median voters. Instead of a proper joined-up policy that ensures buyers of cheap petrol cars have decent public transport, cycling and walking options and subsidies, this half-baked policy risks a suburban ‘showerheads’ style anti nanny-state backlash.
Overseas, the G7 summit agreed to back America’s push for a investigation into whether Covid leaked from a lab in Wuhan. The leaders also agreed to donate less than the hoped-for one billion doses of Covid vaccines to poorer countries.
Coming up: Interest rate watchers will focus this week on the US Federal Reserve’s decision due on Thursday morning NZ Time, with inflationistas looking for any signs of a ‘tapering’ of QE. Most economists still seeing the Fed keeping rates near zero until 2023 at the earliest, which is a year later than our Reserve Bank.