Public finance pioneer

24 Jan 20

New Zealand instituted a number of reforms in the 1980s and early 1990s that were radical by any international standards. Today they would be described as transformative. While they have by no means solved all of the problems New Zealand faces, they very largely achieved what they set out to do.

Thirty years ago, the government of New Zealand became the first to shift from crude cash accounting to accruals accounting, the more rigorous approach that private firms must employ. Then, this May, the government introduced a much-vaunted wellbeing budget, making it one of the first countries in the world to measure the success of public financial management by its people’s wellbeing.

In the period between, the New Zealand Treasury has devised a living standards framework, where financial outcomes jostle for attention with indicators on human, natural and social capital.

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