The Government is short-changing Otago with its allocation of Provincial Growth Funding, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.
“A total of $8.449 million has been given to projects in Otago to date, that compares with over $18 million in neighbouring Southland and pales in comparison to the biggest recipients Tairawhiti (Gisborne) at about $156 million, the West Coast around $138 million and Northland $122 million.
“I’m very concerned that the fund has allocated limited amounts to this region.
“Otago has huge potential for economic development and there are some wonderful opportunities to create employment, growth and a better future for our people.
“I feel like Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has blinkers on when it comes to seeing the potential in this region and I fear that the Government is using the Provincial Growth Fund to boost its support, rather than regional economies like Otago.
“Yes there has been some investment, including $6.5 million recently announced for the Clutha Gold Great Ride Cycle Trail, but these figures really do pale into insignificance when we consider the millions that have been pumped into other projects around the country.
“Otago may have low unemployment and a productive economy, but that’s no reason to shut our region out of this funding, particularly when this is taxpayer money that’s being distributed.
“Let’s also not forget that the expansion and growth of many industry sectors in Otago, including tourism, farming, technology, fruit and wine growing, are dependent on attracting people here and we need Government support to do that.”