Treasury’s Financial Statements of the Government: revealed in lock-up

George White TINZ Communications and Research Analyst

George White

TINZ Communications and Research Analyst

I represented Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) at the October 5th Treasury lock-up for the Financial Statements of the Government (FSG). This event is intended to brief the media and interested organisations just prior to general release of the FSG.

Central government’s financial statements were provided to attendees, along with a quick introduction and explanation of the basic financial state of the government by the Treasury Secretary and Chief Executive Gabriel Makhlouf. Attendees were then given 40 minutes to preview the information and to begin drafting their public statements. The 2017/18 updated budget was subsequently released to the public at 12 noon.

The financial statements were provided as well as a sheet entitled ‘Treasury Basics’ which helped to explain some of the more complex economic concepts in layman’s terms.  This is part of the  Treasury’s Open Government Partnership (New-Zealand-National-Action-Plan-2016-18.pdf ) commitment to make the budget more accessible to the public. It is helpful in allowing those who are not well-versed in Government economics to at least get a reasonable grasp on the financial status of the government.

The lock up was sparsely attended, with journalists primarily concerned with the pending formation of the coalition government following the September 23rd national election.  The Q & A session ended prematurely once it was stated that election related questions would not be answered. Otherwise reporters and news agencies in attendance appeared to be happy with the information provided.

Attendees were instructed that while they could quote Ministers on information they provided, they were not to be quoted by name.  This lack of transparency falls short of the Treasury’s ‘need to strengthen relationships, communication, and accountability between government (central and local), iwi and civil.’  

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