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Budget 2017 Home Page Summary of Initiatives in Budget 2017

1  How to Read this Document

How to Read the Tables in this Document

This figure describes the layout of tables that list Budget 2017 Initiatives.
This figure describes the layout of tables that are in the Notes on Initiatives section of this document.

How the Budget is Put Together

The Budget introduced to Parliament on Budget day seeks authorisation for government spending in the 2017/18 financial year (1 July 2017-30 June 2018), including new initiatives and existing activities. The Budget also provides information on spending for subsequent years out to 2020/21.

Typically, previously agreed spending (the baseline) does not automatically increase each year.[1] Increases to current baselines are provided for from the operating and capital allowances. Operating funding provides for on-going operational costs while capital expenditure provides the one-off investment for the construction or establishment of assets.

The level of the operating and capital allowances is set in advance of each Budget and included in forecasts as “forecast new spending”. The decision-making phase of the Budget process then allocates the allowances to specific initiatives. The additional spending met from allowances and existing baselines forms the total Budget.

For Budget 2017, the operating allowance is $1.8 billion a year and the capital allowance is $4.0 billion. The allowances are calculated in net terms, meaning that increases in spending may be offset by increases in revenue, reductions in spending, or reprioritisation. For example, gross new operating spending in Budget 2017 averages $1.9 billion a year; however, this is offset by $0.1 billion a year of revenue and savings initiatives on average, bringing the total net increase to $1.8 billion a year.

As well as being a net number, the allowance is calculated as an average across years. This means that for each financial year (2017/18-2020/21) the net total may not exactly equal the allowance and may be higher or lower. However, on average across the forecast period the allowance will be $1.8 billion. The average also takes into consideration any expenditure in the current financial year (2016/17).

The Budget operating allowance is on a per year basis. The Budget 2017 operating allowance is $1.8 billion a year - over the four years 2017/18-2020/21 this totals $7.2 billion. The Treasury's fiscal forecasts also include allowances to be allocated in future Budgets. As Figure 1 shows, the cumulative impact of these operating allowances will increase the 2020/21 baseline by a further $5.2 billion. Figure 2 shows the capital allowances to be allocated in future Budgets.

Figure 1 - Budget 2017 (average per year) and future Budget operating allowances
Figure 1 - Budget 2017 (average per year) and future Budget operating allowances   .
Figure 2 - Budget 2017 and future capital allowances
Figure 2 - Budget 2017 and future capital allowances.

Understanding Appropriations and Votes

“Appropriations” and “Votes” are terms used to describe government spending in a legislative context. Appropriations are the basis on which Parliament authorises the executive government to incur expenses and capital expenditure. Without parliamentary authority, the Government has no authorisation to spend public money.

The Appropriation Bill introduced to Parliament on Budget day seeks authority for government spending in the upcoming financial year. The Estimates of Appropriations which are also provided to Parliament on Budget day provide detail on all appropriations.

An appropriation must have a scope statement outlining what the funding can be spent on and an amount which sets the upper limit of the financial authority. Any costs incurred that are not within the scope statement or are above the upper limit are considered unlawful.

Related appropriations are grouped into Votes (eg, all the appropriations relating to Social Housing are collectively described as Vote Social Housing). Although appropriations in a Vote may be the responsibility of one or more Ministers, a Vote is administered by one department.

Appropriations are a constraint on the amount that can be spent rather than a promise to provide funding, or a requirement to spend it. As appropriations are a constraint or upper limit, they are also not necessarily a forecast of how much will be spent.

How do Appropriations Relate to Forecasts?

Whereas appropriations describe the upper limit of what the Government may spend, core Crown expenses presented in the fiscal forecasts reflect a best estimate of expenditure. Core Crown expenses are also adjusted to eliminate transfers within the Crown (eg, when one government department purchases a service from another government department).

In the Treasury's fiscal forecasts (see the Budget Update), expenses are grouped by functional classification, such as health, education, law and order, environmental protection, transport and communication. This functional analysis of expenses is based on the Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG) as developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The functional analysis of expenses allows for high-level international comparisons of Government spending.


The Appropriation (2017/18 Estimates) Bill when enacted will provide parliamentary authority for government spending. Efforts have been made to ensure that the details provided in this document are consistent with those provided in the Appropriation (2017/18 Estimates) Bill and the supporting information in the Estimates of Appropriations. If there are any inconsistencies, the Appropriation (2017/18 Estimates) Bill provides the correct information.

Some tables may not add up to the totals specified due to rounding.


not applicable

millions of dollars

brackets are used to indicate a savings initiative or a revenue increase


0, (0)
not zero, but rounded to zero

used in reference to a Volume of the Estimates of Appropriations for 2017/18

used in reference to the Supplementary Estimates of Appropriations for 2016/17

initiatives marked with an asterisk are either partially or fully funded by reprioritisation, reflect loans repayable to the Crown or are levy funded

initiatives marked with this are part of the Social Investment Package


  • [1] Some specific forecast expenditure items are automatically adjusted. Most relate to legislative entitlements such as New Zealand Superannuation, which is indexed to average weekly earnings and also driven by forecasts of eligibility entitlement. See for more detailed information on New Zealand’s Budgeting practices.
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