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Cullen bats off questions

Michael Cullen tells Parliament that ratings agency Moodys thinks the government's super fund will be good for the economy.

Tuesday, November 27th 2001, 10:37PM

Question 6.

MARK PECK (Labour) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: What recent reports has he received on the future provision of New Zealand Superannuation?
A: I have seen contradictory statements. One from Gerry Brownlee and one from Bill English.

Q: What about international reaction?
A: Moody’s says the fund will help the economy
*.

Q: Does he agree that if $2 billion was invested last year it would have lost more than $300 million and that it would take several years of above average returns to make up the losses?
A: I am pleased that the Opposition has noticed that equity markets move both up and down.

Q: Can he confirm that the fund will not grow the economy?
A: I am pleased that ACT has now admitted it does not change the size of the NZ economy, they had been saying the exact opposite.

Q: What about the US recession?
A: It is not my strategy to invest overseas. The guardians of the fund will decide the strategy.

Q: If the guardians decide to invest in NZ will he not oppose them?
A: Yes.

 * International ratings agency Moody's says: "Given New Zealand's demographic profile, the healthcare and pension costs will begin to exert significant pressure on public finance in about 10 years time. In response, the government has set up a superannuation fund which will partially pre-fund future pension costs. This reform should help ease the long-term fiscal challenge stemming from an aging population. However, it is worth noting that this strategy relies on increasing public sector savings, rather than encouraging an increase in private sector savings. The effects on the total savings-investment imbalance are still unclear, although they are likely to be more positive than negative. At the same time, the government has the option of further measures in the future to encourage private savings."

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These are questions asked in Parliament on November 27, 2001 regarding the Government's superannuation fund. They are not an official transcript of proceedings.

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