EMA welcomes report on immigration system

They say that refreshed immigration policy is not the only answer to driving productivity

EMA welcomes report on immigration system

The Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) of New Zealand welcomed on Tuesday the Productivity Commission's report on the immigration system.

The report, titled Immigration - Fit for the Future, revealed that New Zealand's immigration system has "largely worked well," especially in contributing to the economy and communities.

It also concluded that immigration is "not likely to be the solution to the productivity challenges" faced by the country.

"We'd agree with the findings that long-term investment, infrastructure planning and skills development needed to build local capability are also necessary to drive better productivity," said Alan McDonald, EMA head of advocacy and strategy.

He added that refreshed immigration policy settings are "not exclusive answer to driving productivity."

"The key will be how we integrate these and the policy settings that are needed to provide the certainty of immigration for business to ensure they can effectively plan for their workforces," he said.

The report also called for transparency on the end of the government when it comes to its immigration policy, calling it "shielded" and "decided in a blackbox."

"Immigration policy has profound effects on families, communities, businesses and those who aspire to call Aotearoa home. Yet immigration policy appears to be decided in a black box, shielded from the public scrutiny and robust policy assessments required of most other public policies," said Productivity Commission chair Ganesh Nana.

"The Commission found that migrants bring diversity and much-needed skills to workplaces across the country," added Nana. "They play an important role in creating job opportunities for New Zealanders, and in contributing to New Zealand's economic development."

Read more: EMA: Minimum wage hike could 'shut more people out of work'

The report recommended a number of changes to promote a longer-term system focus to improve the quality and transparency of immigration policy.

One of its key recommendations is the issuance of an Immigration Government Policy Statement (GPS), which will require governments to set a "clear strategic direction for immigration policy."

It would provide the much-needed transparency the commission requested from the government.

"A GPS would have improved the transparency around the Government's recent immigration rebalance announcement, by including how policy changes would affect the expected number and composition of migrants and the planning range for residence visas," said Nana. "It would have explained how its objectives in immigration related to its other objectives for education and training, and investments in infrastructure overall."

For the EMA, Mcdonald said they look forward to the GPS as well as working with the government on the report's recommendations.

"We look forward to working with the government on recommendations from the report and an enduring Immigration Government Policy Statement that will help inform the way forward."

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