Getting the Government's books in order is one of our priorities for this term in office, and we're on track to get back to surplus by 2014/15. At the same time, we're working hard towards our goal of building a more competitive and productive economy.
Great news out this week showed we are on the right track. Gross Domestic Product figures show growth of 3 per cent in our economy the last year, which was higher than forecast. In the December quarter of last year, growth was at 1.5 per cent.
Indications are that growth will continue this year as consumer and business confidence rises. A lift in household spending signals people are feeling more secure and optimistic. And it was good to see construction activity is picking up across the country - wider than the Canterbury rebuild - which is more good news for our communities.
This week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) gave their approval to our plan. They said we've got the right balance between providing the services New Zealanders need, while tracking back to surplus to protect our economy for the future.
National is reforming welfare, which we campaigned on at the last election, because our current system is not working. Almost 12 per cent of our working age population is on some form of benefit, and about 220,000 kids are growing up in a benefit-dependent home.
When I was young my father passed away, and my family relied on the welfare system to help us. We won't be making any changes to welfare that will stop those in genuine need from getting support to help them through.
Our changes alter the obligations we have for beneficiaries. And we're simplifying the current benefits from seven into three. This week, the Bill to enable these changes passed a second reading in Parliament. Our changes will be in place from July this year.
Building on trade links
Earlier this week I recorded a video where I talked through the importance of building on my connections with world leaders, to increase New Zealand's trading opportunities. When doors are open to our exporters, and they are doing well, they employ more Kiwis, providing a much-needed boost to our economy.
Watch my latest video to find out about the importance of my trade missions for New Zealand.
From my diary
Yesterday I was in New Plymouth, where I opened Nova Energy's new McKee Power plant. Today I'm in Auckland opening a new manufacturing facility for Fisher and Paykel Healthcare and meeting with Thailand's Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra in Auckland.
www. johnkey. co. nz