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Budget 2017 Home Page Budget Economic and Fiscal Update 2017

Specific Fiscal Risks by Portfolio

ACC

ACC Levies (Unchanged)

Indicative future levy rates for the Work, Earners and Motor Vehicle accounts have been included in the forecasts. However, final levy decisions are made by the Government and may differ from the forecast levy path. In addition, revenue from the levies set for these accounts may be more or less than is required to cover the cost of claims. If factors such as claims experience, ACC performance and economic assumptions (particularly discount rates and unemployment rates) turn out differently from what has been forecast, ACC's levy revenue, claims costs and liability may also differ from forecast. Any variance will have a corresponding impact on the operating balance.

Non-earners Account (Unchanged)

The amount of funding provided by the Crown (and included in the fiscal forecasts) for the Non-earners Account may be more or less than is required to cover the cost of claims. If factors such as claims experience, ACC performance and economic assumptions (particularly discount rates) turn out differently from what has been forecast, any such variance will have a corresponding fiscal impact.

Work-related Gradual Process Disease and Infection (Unchanged)

Under current legislation, the Government incurs an obligation for Work-related Gradual Process Disease and Infection claims when the claim is made, and an expense is recognised at this point. The liability for commercial accident and sickness insurance contracts would usually be recognised when exposure to conditions that will give rise to a claim occurs. An amendment to legislation would be required to recognise claims at the same time as for commercial contracts. An initial adjustment to the liability and an expense of about $1.0 billion to $1.5 billion would need to be reported if such an amendment were to be enacted.

Building and Construction

Housing Infrastructure Fund (Changed)

In June 2016, Cabinet agreed to establish a $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) to which high-growth, financially constrained councils can apply to help finance roading and water infrastructure needed to unlock residential development. In principle recommendations for Ministers on which projects to fund through the HIF are expected by late June 2017, with final negotiations on amounts and terms of the loans continuing with councils until end-2017 and payments to be disbursed subsequent to that. Uncertainty created by these processes creates additional fiscal risks that need to be managed in relation to:

  • the value of the bids that meet the criteria
  • the split between capital and operating spending
  • whether or not the full amount of the fund will be repaid to the Crown, and
  • the timing of repayments of those amounts that are to be repaid.

Children

Investing in Children Transformation (Unchanged)

The new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, was established on 1 April 2017 with a new operating model to be implemented over the next few years and an expanded focus and target group, and new obligations from associated legislation. To the extent that the costs associated with the new Ministry cannot be funded from an amount the Government has set aside in a tagged contingency or from reprioritisation, additional funding is likely to be required.

Corrections

Additional Capacity to Address Prison Population (Unchanged)

The fiscal forecasts include provision for the Government's agreed investment to create additional prison capacity to accommodate prison population growth over the next 10 years. It is likely that the Department of Corrections will require additional funding relating to the direct costs of accommodating prison population increases, as they arise, which would impact on the operating and capital balance. There is also a risk that growth in the prison population is different from what is included in the forecasts and additional funding is required.

Defence

Operating and Capital Costs (Unchanged)

In 2016, the Government reconsidered New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) capability and funding requirements through the Defence White Paper 2016. It is expected that changes to NZDF operating and capital funding will be made over the forecast period to achieve the Defence White Paper settings. However, the precise quantum and timing of these changes will be dependent on a range of business cases that will be considered by Cabinet in the future.

Disposal of NZDF Assets (Unchanged)

The Government is considering the potential to dispose of a number of NZDF assets. Depending on market conditions, the timing of disposal and sale price received could have either a positive or negative impact on the Government's overall financial position. NZDF is also completing an analysis of inventory that is surplus to requirements and is over and above the existing provision for obsolescence. The existing provision is also being reviewed to ensure that all items comprising the provision are still relevant.

Earthquake Commission

EQC (Unchanged)

EQC's independent actuary undertakes half-yearly valuations of the total earthquake liability to the Crown. This includes settled and yet-to-settle claims and reinsurance recoveries. Based on these valuations, a profile of the claims yet to settle is included in the fiscal forecasts. There still remains some risk that EQC's remaining settlement expenditure relating to the Canterbury and Kaikōura earthquakes will be different (higher or lower) than forecast.

Economic Development

New Zealand Screen Production Grant (New)

The New Zealand Screen Production Grant is a demand-driven, uncapped programme. New Zealand is attracting a much larger number of international productions. Based on the current rising trend, there is a risk that demand for the Screen Production Grant will exceed what is included in the fiscal forecasts.

Education

School and ECE Funding Review (Unchanged)

The Government is currently engaging the sector on a review of education funding, across schooling and early childhood education (ECE). There is potential for fiscal costs but this depends on policy decisions that are yet to be made. Any funding changes would not be implemented until 2020.

Finance

Crown Overseas Properties (Unchanged)

The Government holds New Zealand House in London on a long-term lease from the Crown Estate (UK). Depending on the outcome of ongoing discussions with the Crown Estate, an upgrade to the building may be required. Should a decision be taken to refurbish the property, a rough-order cost estimate for this upgrade is $100 million over the forecast period.

Goodwill on Acquisition (Unchanged)

As at 30 June 2016, the Government had goodwill on acquisition of a number of sub-entities totalling $602 million. Under New Zealand accounting standards (PBE IPSAS 26), such goodwill items are required to be assessed annually for impairment. If there is any indication that the goodwill may be impaired, the recoverable amount of the cash generating units to which the goodwill is allocated is required to be estimated. If the recoverable amount is less than the carrying amount of those units, the units and the goodwill allocated to them are regarded as impaired and the Government is required to recognise impairment losses in the operating statement. Such assessments will be conducted at the end of the financial year, and the fiscal forecasts currently make no allowance for such impairment losses.

Greater Christchurch Regeneration

Christchurch Central-Recovery Plan - Anchor Projects (Unchanged)

The Crown is partially funding the construction of Anchor Projects as part of the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan. The funding for the construction of Anchor Projects will vary from project to project, dependent on final scope, ownership decisions, implementation and project costs, and will to some extent eventually be recovered. Projects are progressing through the decision-making process and construction costs will become increasingly clear during the procurement phase. The quantum and timing of Crown contribution may differ from that included in the fiscal forecasts.

Residential Red Zone (Unchanged)

Some recoveries from EQC and private insurers remain outstanding and there is a risk that final recoveries may be greater or less than forecast. In addition, potential costs or potential revenues or recoveries associated with the future use of residential red zone are uncertain. The future value may change depending on any future alternate uses of the land. The fiscal impact of this is not yet certain.

Southern Response Earthquake Services Support (Unchanged)

The ultimate cost to the Crown of settling earthquake claims remains subject to significant uncertainty. Forecasts assume that the actual cost to settle claims will align with the actuary's central estimate of the claims provision. There is a risk that the actual cost could vary from this estimate which is sensitive to its underlying assumptions such as damage estimates, legal challenges, reinsurance recoveries and the forecast profile of claims settlement. The Crown's financial position may be adversely impacted as these assumptions are modified over time. Because the net claims liability is large, small percentage changes in the liability can have a material impact on costs and forecasts.

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