Questionable Provincial Growth Fund job claims

Minister of Regional Economic Development  Shane Jones has been questioned for some time about how many jobs have been created by the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF). He has now come up with a number, but that is a bit dubious.

RNZ: Shane Jones’ 10,000 job creation claim under scrutiny

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones is crowing over cracking the target of creating more than 10,000 jobs through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).

He said a detailed stocktake has found 13,217 people have been employed so far following PGF investments.

But Jones has dismissed as unimportant details like how long they had been employed for, and how many were full time or part time.

Jones said the PGF outstripping the job numbers it hoped to achieve “speaks volumes about the fund’s success”.

“So just at the level of the human face of the PGF, this figure is not only handsome it’s an affirmation of everything we set out to do,” Jones said.

Until now, the Provincial Development Unit only collected data about the number of workers employed on a given project over the last month.

For example, figures for May show a total of 2727.

But with growing demands from both journalists and the opposition for more details Jones got MBIE officials to ring every fund recipient to find out how many people they had employed.

To head off what he calls “doubting Thomas types” Jones had the stocktake reviewed by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.

However, it highlighted some shortcomings, most notably – that the figure was a count of people working on projects, not the number of jobs created.

Jones said he was not being disingenuous claiming the 10,000 jobs milestone.

“I’m not too hung up on looking at this purely through the font of an FTE (full-time equivalent). It is going to endow and it has endowed regions with new infrastructure which leads to productivity and in that journey the lives of 13,000 people have been positively touched in an economic way,” Jones said.

It seems typical of Jones not to get hung up details that give a true picture of success of the huge fund.

But National’s Michael Woodhouse said Jones was “gilding the lily”.

“They have no idea how many jobs have been created and the reason is they didn’t ask the applicants, so I think it’s disingenuous to say that many jobs have been created and they’re doing random surveys to pluck any sort of job number out of the air to make it look as if they’ve achieved an arbitrary goal,” Woodhouse said.

Woodhouse said while $2.7 billion of the fund had been committed, only $339 million had actually made it out the door.

Actual delivery is an issue\.

Greymouth Mayor Tania Gibson said the fund had been great for her region.

The West Coast has been allocated just under $180m and has so far had 518 jobs.

Gibson said the planned $18m Pounamu Pathway and visitor centre was a spark of hope for businesses in the CBD.

But she said red tape had stopped projects from starting yet.

“Well that’s the thing, we still have to get those projects off the ground to do the job creation … so we’ve got a lot of work to do now to make that happen. It’s not always as easy as it sounds,” she said.

So the jobs have not actually been created yet apart from being on paper proposals.

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little also believed the PGF had been a success.

Wairoa got just $6.1m to help rebuild the town centre and $9m to better digital connections for business as well as roading and skills and employment initiatives.

Little could not say exactly how many jobs had been created but said the fund was about more than that.

“Social, economic, cultural and environmental that we’re able to tick off and it makes Wairoa a much better place to live.

“So even if your jobs haven’t been as many as they thought, but I believe Wairoa has been really successful, it’s just people feeling a little bit better about themselves about getting things done,” Little said.

It’s not surprising to see a mayor being enthusiastic about being given large amounts of money by the Government, regardless of whether the money is achieving what was promised or not.

Jones has claimed “this figure is not only handsome it’s an affirmation of everything we set out to do”.

From the original PGF Cabinet Paper (December 2017) – key design features of the fund are:

Objectives of the Fund: The overall objective of the Fund is to lift the productivity potential in the regions. The following specific objectives are proposed – jobs and sustainable economic development; social inclusion and participation; Māori development; climate change and environmental sustainability; and resilience (infrastructure and economic).

To support our overall goal of productive, sustainable and inclusive growth, and to achieve the lift in productivity potential in the regions, I propose that investments must contribute to most of the following objectives, with a particular focus on the first objective:

a. Increased jobs and sustainable economic development: investments support increased jobs (with a focus on high quality jobs) and sustainable economic development over the long term, particularly in regions and sub-regions where unemployment is high and there are significant social challenges;

– Authorised for lodgement
Hon Shane Jones
Minister for Regional Economic Development

Jones’ claims fall well short of demonstrating that the PGF is substantially increasing high quality jobs and sustainable economic development – and says nothing about how cost effective his handouts have been.

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10 Comments

  1. duperez

     /  4th August 2020

    Quantifying numbers of jobs and the significance and relevance of the bare numbers seems to have become more fraught over time.

    They’re likely to be the ping-pong ball batted back and forth over the table.

    I remember claims once about the number of jobs being created in a region when there’d been closures and loss of jobs. A positive picture was painted which on consideration saw 15 manufacturing jobs not such a loss as it was being more than balanced out by 17 young people getting part time work in places like McDonald’s.

    Reply
    • That is absurd ! How can anyone think that a p/t job gained by a young person cancels out a breadwinner’s f/t job going ? It’s really good that the 17 had those jobs, but even so…..

      Reply
  2. John J Harrison

     /  4th August 2020

    I am “shocked”that anyone would dare to question the bloviating buffoon.
    Everything enunciated from an M P from NZ First either has to be treated with contempt or absolute doubt.
    Thank goodness they will be distinct 20/09.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  4th August 2020

      Gerry isnt that bad, the rebuild was a shambles yes, but he just grimaces and carrys on…isnt that the bloviating buffon you refer to

      Reply
    • Extinct ?

      No, Gerry Brownlee (National) isn’t promising and claiming thousands of jobs that can’t and probably won’t happen. That’s Shane Jones (NZF).

      Reply
  3. Blazer

     /  4th August 2020

    ‘ The overall objective of the Fund is to lift the productivity potential in the regions. ‘

    That is success.

    Reply
    • It might be success if it happened, but that hasn’t been measured, nor has it been claimed by Jones in any meaningful way.

      Reply
  4. Blazer

     /  4th August 2020

    Key word =potential.

    Reply
  5. Painting the lily.

    ‘To gild refined gold, to paint the lily/To throw a perfume on the violet….’

    Shakespeare, King John

    Gilding the lily is meaningless. The whole idea is that it’s pointless to gold-plate gold, paint a flower or put scent on a violet.

    Reply
  1. Auditor-General critical of Provincial Growth Fund | Your NZ

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