Whaleoil transcript: Mike Hosking & Jacinda Ardern on a digital services tax, provincial growth fund loans & measuring progress

Mike Hosking.

Newstalk ZB recording starts at 11:52

Mike

As regards your google, Facebook, or whatever you want to call it, tax, as much as I or most of us might agree about the fairness aspect of it, what?s it going to cost you to chase $30M?

Jacinda

Between $30M and $80M.  It ranges?

Mike

It?ll be 30, it won?t be 80, if it was 80, you?d say it was 80. So, what?s it going to cost you to chase 30?

Jacinda

Actually, I?m reluctant to put numbers on it at all.

Mike

No kidding.

Jacinda

I think it is better?

Mike

Is it possible it will cost you more than 30 to chase the 30?

Jacinda

No, no, I would certainly not say that. You know, we haven?t put numbers?

Mike

So, what?s your advice?

Jacinda

We haven?t put numbers on that. I haven?t seen any advice on the cost of um? ah? the cost of capturing it.

Mike

Haven?t you asked?

Jacinda

The digital services tax? keeping in mind Mike is a ver very simple regime, for the fact that it is quite hard to determine what kind of profit has been generated by some of this activity. So, it?s based on turnover, it?s set roughly at 2 and 3%. We are not alone. A number of other countries are looking at this. Australia is consulting on it as we speak ah? and the OECD has been working on this for some time. Now it may be the OECD comes out with a resolution that everyone agrees on and everyone implements?

Mike

They won?t.

Jacinda

That would be great.

Mike

They won?t, you know they won?t.

Jacinda

Yeah, it looks challenging so I think? you know, we don?t want to be left behind when this is an issue of fairness.

Mike

Well, yes, it is an issue of fairness, but only to the point where it becomes more expensive to chase the money we get, than the money we actually get. It doesn?t make sense? if it?s not fiscally sensible there?s no point doing it. Which is my great fear.

Jacinda

I have not received any advice to suggest it would be counter productive to have multi-nationals pay their fair share of tax.

Mike

Have you asked?

Jacinda

Oh, look, that?s usually information that officials put to us, um? but again, generally we have put more support into collection, fair collection of tax, in the last budget. But I have seen no suggestion that this will cost us more to pursue than it will generate.

Mike

Thursday?s tax working group information, the CGT recommendation that will come out of it, are you able to? you?re not going to be able to tell me whether you support the CGT?

Jacinda

No.

Mike

No, you?re not. So, does Peter?s support one?

Jacinda

Again, you know, if you?d like to ask um?. ah?

Mike

Well, I already have, so I know the answer, he doesn?t. So, what are you going to do about that?

Jacinda

Well, we as a government now have the job of ah? forming a consensus around how we respond. And, look, that?s what we do with all major issues that we face as a government. Yes, Mike I went out and campaigned as Labour leader in a position. We?ve now undertaken this piece of work and now my job is to bring together the parties that represent the majority of New Zealanders and come up with the response.

Mike

When will that response be so we get a sense of whether we are going into the election with a CGT policy?

Jacinda

We?ve said April.

Mike


April. Right-oh. The provincial growth fund is increasingly lending money to people without giving information as to what the terms and conditions of those loans are. The latest which is Methven, seven and a half million, the first of which was Westland milk, ten. Why are we going to? seemingly going concerns, lending the money when they could be going to a bank?

Jacinda

Well, in each case there are specific reasons why that hasn?t necessarily been a viable option, um? there are?

Recording ends.

Jacinda

?commercial sensitivities around releasing some of this information and so that is why um? that exists. But of course, we make sure it?s on terms that are satisfactory to the crown but usually it is us plugging a gap that exists.

Mike

But do they? What? what?s the gap that exists at Westland Milk?

Jacinda

Oh? let me give you an example. Um? ah? for instance there?s been questions? we?ve said that? you know? Maori land, for instance? um?

Mike

But that?s specific? I get that? that?s fully understandable?

Jacinda

Let me give you an example?

Mike

I don?t understand Westland Milk.

Jacinda

Yeah, and Westland? look when I visited them gave me um? ah? a rundown of why they?d had issues, or have issues with? at a commercial level in lending?

Mike

What were they?

Jacinda

I? I don?t want to expand too much on what might be commercially sensitive information?

Mike

Do they have special interest rates?

Jacinda

Again, I am not going to release commercially sensitive data to you but it is fair to say of course we always keep in mind preserving the crown?s position. And, ultimately Mike, the PGF exists to make sure that we are generating jobs and opportunities?

Mike

Yeah? yeah? I get it. I am not necessarily against it.

Jacinda

There are good reasons for doing this.

Mike

Well, we don?t know what they are. That?s the point. The point is, you can say they are good reasons but you are lending money to people that we?ve got no idea what the circumstances are.

Jacinda

Oh, no. And at the time, you know, there was a bit more detail put around that. I just want to be cautious about not delving into what I was told in a sensitive environment.

Tape starts at 1:24

Mike

These 12 priorities that you sort of set yourself as a government that you are sort of failing to mark at the moment, how did you ever think you were going to mark, for instance, valuing who we are as a country?

Jacinda

Oh, look, certainly there are things that we would do around um? our international reputation, our independent foreign policy that you can?t put measures on Mike, and I don?t think anyone would expect you would. There are other areas?

Mike

But we?re expecting a report saying that you are measuring them.

Jacinda

There are other areas ah? actually what you are referring to is the speech I gave in September where I said ?here are some of our goals, we expect to put in? ah? to track our progress across the areas where you can. Of course, there are some areas where it?s? it?s quite difficult?

Jacinda

There are other areas, actually, that are?

Mike

Would you accept that valuing who we are as a country can?t be tracked?

Jacinda

I never claimed it could, Mike.

Mike

Okay. So, therefore we should expect nothing from you as regards progress on them?

Jacinda

So, the speech I gave in September ah? covered off what we wanted to do to generate and share um? um? more evenly NZ?s prosperity, what we wanted to do around trade, how we wanted to make sure that we were lifting children out of poverty, what we were doing on making sure people had a warm dry roof above their heads, there is a range of issues. You?ve plucked out one thing?

Mike

Well I plucked out one of the 12. I can do the ?creating an international reputation we can be proud of,? that was another one of the 12?

Jacinda

And you can?t measure that either and we?ve never claimed everything that?s important to us is measurable, Mike.

Mike

When is the stuff coming that is measurable?

Jacinda

In September I said it would be roughly six months so we are looking at next month it?s likely that we will have that ready to go.

Mike

Jacinda Ardern, thank you for your time.

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