Shane Jones guarantees 'vast majority' of regional development fund will be new capital

Regional Development Minister Shane Jones has guaranteed that 70 percent of the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund will be new capital.

Mr Jones made the remarks on Newshub Nation on Saturday morning in response to criticism that projects announced so far were not new, and had already been promised funding under earlier schemes.

"A small part of it will be funds that we are reprioritising, but the vast majority, well in excess of 70 percent, will be new capital."

He said the next funding announcement in early April will focus not only on the four 'surge' areas of Northland, the East Coast, Hawke's Bay, and Whanganui but also on the Bay of Plenty and the South Island.

Mr Jones detailed the fund's structure, with 'Tier 1' projects - defined as in excess of $20 million - needing whole Government approval. Mid-level projects, between $1 and $20 million will be signed off by a small group of ministers. Projects costing under $1 million signed off by "senior bureaucrats in regular contact with the regions".

He said that despite the various levels of sign-off, he was confident there would be a coordinated approach the projects.

"Once we gather momentum, each region will be able to define its own priorities. I'm not afraid that it is going to to look like some kind of untidy scrum at a rugby game."

The minister said some projects announced this year or next year would not be finished before the next election. 

Mr Jones said success would be measured by a drop in unemployment and economic improvement in "key dysfunctional areas", but does not have specific targets in place.

He said 700 new jobs produced by the $60 million already pledged, and that $80,000 per job was a good return on investment.

"In the areas that are blighted and have been neglected, I'd do it in a heartbeat."

Newshub Nation.

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