A summary of proceedings of the second session of the Treasury's Long-Term Fiscal External Panel, held at Victoria University of Wellington on September 26, is now publicly available.
"The first Panel session, held in August, highlighted that policy adjustments will likely be needed in the decades ahead to ensure budget balances and public debt levels remain at prudent levels over the longer term.
"The second session met to scrutinize how the Treasury's Living Standards Framework will be used to assess the potential policy reform options that future governments may need to adopt in order to meet the fiscal challenge primarily posed by the ageing of our population structure," says Professor Bob Buckle, Dean of Victoria University Business School and chair of the Panel.
"I found it an extremely informative and engaged Panel session. There was general support for the approach of the Living Standards Framework used by the Treasury which includes looking at multiple dimensions when it considers the impacts of policy change rather than just economic growth or economic efficiency" he said.
"While this makes the task of policy advice directed at ensuring fiscal sustainability more challenging, and requires analysis of the impacts of policy on equity, social infrastructure, risk and uncertainty, as well as economic efficiency, it means that the approach focuses attention on how policy decisions can contribute to, or work against, the critical ingredients underpinning living standards."
Professor Buckle said the quality of the feedback that Treasury is receiving through the External Panel process is proving valuable to raising the eventual quality of the next Statement on the Long-Term Fiscal Position which must be tabled in Parliament before the end of next year.
"At this stage, the Panel is due to meet at the end of this month and at the end of November prior to the Affording Our Future 2012 Conference that the Treasury and the Chair of Finance at Victoria Business School are co-hosting on December 10-11.
"The Conference will bring together academic specialists, well-known social commentators and former senior ministers to assist to promote an evidence-based public discussion on the types of policy choices that may need to be made in the future to manage the Crown's long-term fiscal position," Professor Buckle said.
Research papers discussed at External Panel monthly meetings are draft works-in-progress. Analysis may be refined, amended or strengthened in response to feedback from the Panel, and from other peer-review processes, prior to being used in the Treasury's next Long-Term Fiscal Statement.
Copies of research papers and presentations discussed at the second session of the Panel are available on this website.
The independent External Panel was established earlier this year to test and challenge the Treasury's initial research as it works to finalise its next Statement which is required to be tabled in Parliament in 2013. The Panel next meets on Thursday 25 October and meets again on Thursday 29 November. Session agendas are published online prior to each meeting.