Stuart Nash, wearing his hat as Economic and Regional Development Minister, announced this week that almost $181 million in Provincial Growth Fund monies have flowed to Hawke’s Bay through March 2021.

Another $91 million awaits our four territorial councils as ‘better off’ funding courtesy of the ‘3 Waters’ initiative.

And according to a recent presentation HDC delivered, over $170 million of taxpayer dosh has flowed to that council alone in the last three years.

More could be added to the rest of our councils. Even assuming some double-counting, it’s hard to imagine the total spend – over and above BAU spending on schools, health care, Police etc – hasn’t amounted to over $500 million.

What a huge amount of ‘fiscal stimulus’ into our region. Probably the main reason for our region’s economy seeming to hum along quite nicely. And the reason you can’t find a plumber or electrician! While every enterprise – from businesses to councils – is struggling to retain staff and fill new jobs.

These charts from Infometrics show how well Hawke’s Bay has fared.

Infometrics
Infometrics

What happens when the Wellington tap gets turned off?

The resilience of our regional economy will really be put to the test.

Surely there will be heaps of money still in the pipeline, yet to be spent on major infrastructure projects, public and private.

And our dominant primary sector will carry some forward momentum. We’re fortunately enjoying the highest prices for our food exports in years, especially meat. But that too is expected to moderate. And farmers are facing extraordinary cost pressures on everything from fuel to fertiliser to shipping to interest rates.

Tourism might claw back some still limited dollars next summer with borders reopened.

Then what?

Can our food export value/earnings continue to rise? Will we have more public sector employees – health workers, teachers, council staff? Will we have a flood of wealthy retirees arriving with heaps of cash on hand? Will we launch a film production industry … or other high-paying IP businesses? Will we have a National-led Government handing out tax reductions?

Where’s the next round of economic stimulus coming from?

What’s your prediction?

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