Provincial Growth Fund to fast-track $600m to job-creation projects

The Provincial Growth Fund will fast-track $600 million to projects that can provide jobs as soon as possible.

Minister Shane Jones warned on Sunday current projects that are already struggling could be terminated so the funds can be freed up for new ones.

  • $100m will go towards waterway fencing, planting on banks, and replacing streams and dams with tanks, pumps, pipes and troughs
  • $60m will be for road and rail investments 
  • $70 million will be available for upgrades to marae, town halls, Pasifika churches and war memorials

The little tourist trap of Raglan has been hit hard by COVID-19.

"It is a very much a high tourist destination and they are suffering by not having tourists in the town," Waikato Mayor Alan Sampson says.

But help is on the way. The Government is pumping $2.5 million into the seaside township to provide an upgrade to its wharf.

"It was bang on what we hoped for," Sampson says.

The funding boost is part of a post-COVID plan to quickly create jobs and workflow, by taking $600 million out of the Provincial Growth Fund and pushing it into the regions.

Minister of Regional Economic Development Shane Jones says it's a much-needed investment to keep Kiwis in work.

"The projects that are being thrust into our direction will result in hundreds and hundreds of people moving into employment," he says.

The plan outlines three main points:

  • The first is jobs. the aim being to immediately create new employment opportunities to communities reeling the most from COVID-19
  • The second is timelines and the need for projects to get up and running as soon as possible
  • The third and final point is visibility. Kiwis need to be able to see the economy is recovering

"We are not going to solve the post-COVID economic contagion if we don't pull together," Jones says.

Along with Raglan, there will be $7.5m pumped into other regional projects in Westport, Otago and Hawke's Bay and around the rest of the country, there will be smaller projects for community members to get involved in.

"But I would say fixing up community halls, sporting facilities where appropriate, maraes - all of this will lead to a rapid turnout of men and women back into the workforce," Jones says.

And while the Opposition is on board with funding for the regions, they say the Government needs to do more than just talk a big game.

"We have real concerns about the ability of the Government to actually deliver this money and deliver these projects," says National MP Chris Bishop. "We have a Government with a history of non-delivery."

And with the election just four months away, they'll need to deliver to regional Kiwis who are counting on them for a lifeline.