Four year funding freeze for OIO causes delays

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) hasn’t received an increase in funding or staff for four years - causing long delays for sellers and buyers and tarnishing New Zealand’s good name as a place to invest, says Labour’s Land Information spokesman Stuart Nash.

“Answers to written questions show that in the 2011/2012 financial year the OIO received less than $3m – exactly the same as the 2014/2015 financial year. 

“The Lochinver decision took over 12 months and the average time to process consents has jumped 30 per cent from 43 days in 2012 to 56 days in 2014.

“The process is long-winded, buyers’ funds have to be set aside as proof for the OIO and decisions are at the whim of the minister and focus groups. No wonder Shanghai Pengxin pulled out of the Northland Farms sale.

“With the TPP set to raise the threshold for OIO scrutiny of company sales from $100m to $200m it’s essential the OIO is properly resourced to scrutinise these sales.

“Labour will toughen up and better resource the OIO so that buyers and sellers will know where they stand. Good quality foreign investment shouldn’t be driven away but investors should have to prove they can create good jobs for New Zealanders and be held to account for those pledges.

“There is no doubt that both the whole Overseas Investment Act and the Overseas Investment Office need a real shake up because they are simply not delivering. 

"New Zealand needs good quality overseas investment that is going to deliver for our country and community. This means an overseas investment regime that is fit for purpose.  Our current one isn’t,” said Stuart Nash.