'Targeted investments' save tech and digital from a Budget wipe-out

'Targeted investments' save tech and digital from a Budget wipe-out

Budget 2023 emphasises skills development and inflation adjustments over specific project funding.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins

Credit: Stuart Yeates

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins presented what he described as a "no frills" Budget on May 18, one that "befits the times" and makes targeted investments where needed.

Mentions of technology and digital initiatives, therefore, are thin on the ground compared with previous years.

"This Budget makes targeted investments in areas I believe are critical to growing our economy and improving productivity – skills, science and technology and infrastructure," the Prime Minister said.

So, what exactly are those investments? 

$4.5 million goes to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to deliver technology that will enable enterprise planning which connects people, financial and contract data to improve forecasting, planning and reporting processes.

The agency also wins $5.5 million to enable the development of a purpose-built technology solution to interact with housing providers about their properties, contracts and services. 

The Parliamentary Service receives $10.5 million to ensure it can manage supplier cost pressures, including those relating to its payroll system replacement and technology facilites.

Under the label "Inland Revenue cost pressures" the tax office receives $36.8 million of funding to meet inflationary cost pressures associated with technology and as-a-service costs.

The Ministry of Social Development similarly gains $89 million to address inflation-driven cost pressures affecting key aspects of its operations relating to information and communication technology, property, and security guards.

One multi-year education initiative provides $39.1 million of funding to maintain cyber security and managed digital services to kura and schools, delivering the next phase of the Cybersecurity and Managed IT Services initiative that was funded through last year's Budget.

Apart from that, the emphasis of multi-year tech funding this year is on skills development.

$74.7 million of operating spending goes to the government's Industry Transformation Plans, but only $26.6 million of that is explicitly tech related. 

This goes to upskill to address digital skills gaps and increase women’s participation in the technology sector from 27 percent to 50 percent by 2030.

This will be achieved through initiatives such as delivering "learn while you earn" opportunities and supporting employers to foster attractive, supportive working environments to attract and retain a diverse workforce and implementing a "skills framework for the information age", the government said.

Enabling all New Zealanders to benefit from the changing nature of work requires a $1 billion-plus overall investment in expanding access to training and technology infrastructure, the government decided. The specifically tech-related component of that was unclear.

A $15.5 million initiative provides funding to continue free home internet access delivered during the pandemic for up to 18,000 student households until June 2024.

A $40 million increase in investment in Māori education also includes unspecified funding for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Pacific data and digital inclusion initiative receives $1.7 million.

Finally, $160 million goes to establishing a 20 per cent tax rebate for video game developers to help grow and protect the $400 million domestic game-development sector.

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Tags skillsMinistry of Social DevelopmentInland RevenueeducationgovernmentBudget 2023Ministry of Housing and Urban Development


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