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New Zealand government to boost capital markets

Posted on Feb 27, 11:05PM | IANS

Wellington, Feb 27 : The New Zealand government Wednesday announced it will commit a further 60 million NZ dollars ($49.46 million) to its venture capital program and take steps to reduce interest rates on debt in a bid to boost the capital markets.

Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce said the new cash to underwrite the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund's (NZVIF) program, which aimed to encourage more private investment into new venture capital funds, reported Xinhua.

"The 60 million NZ dollar underwrite of the venture capital program to which the government has already allocated 160 million NZ dollars and a previous 40 million NZ dollar underwrite allows NZVIF to continue to commit to new venture capital funds, which will invest in technology companies," Joyce said in a statement.

The underwrite would assist new funds to invest and support new investment through the 200 million NZ dollar co-fund established between NZVIF and the National Development Fund of Taiwan.

The announcement came with the release of the government's Building Capital Markets report, the sixth and final report of its Business Growth Agenda, which outlined 50 initiatives to strengthen New Zealand's capital markets.

The report also set a goal of reducing the real interest rate premium on New Zealand debt, compared with the US and Australia, Joyce and Finance Minister Bill English said in a joint statement.

Reducing the interest rate premium paid on New Zealand debt would support New Zealand businesses by levelling the playing-field with offshore competitors, they said.

The Business Growth Agenda has a target of increasing New Zealand exports to 40 percent of GDP by 2025, but it is estimated that collective investment in export industries would need to rise by 70 percent to 90 percent on current levels, requiring significant foreign investment, according to the government.

The measures in the report aimed to improve the functioning of New Zealand's financial system and provide more stable macroeconomic conditions, which would help reduce the cost of capital for New Zealand business.

The high interest rate premium was blamed on several factors, including the country's small capital markets, high indebtedness, exchange rate volatility and low saving relative to investment.