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Opposition urges govt to heed Reserve Bank

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/07/2016 Peter Wilson, Political Writer

A plaque on the outside of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand headquarters on The Terrace in Wellington, New Zealand © Mark Coote/Bloomberg A plaque on the outside of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand headquarters on The Terrace in Wellington, New Zealand Opposition parties are urging the government to step in and help curb the rampant housing market after the Reserve Bank said a "team effort" was needed.

Deputy governor Grant Spencer said on Thursday the bank was considering increasing restrictions on investor borrowing, and could tighten loan-to-value ratios by the end of the year.

He warned that a sharp fall in house prices could pose "real risks" to the economy, and confirmed the bank was also looking at using debt-to-income restrictions to put a "speed limit" on mortgages.

"Housing risks require a broad policy response ... it is also important to explore policies that will keep the demand for housing more in line with supply capacity," he said.

"Two areas for ongoing consideration include tax and migration policy."

Mr Spencer said the high rate of immigration had stoked demand and there may be merits in reviewing it.

Labour's finance spokesman, Grant Robertson, interpreted that as an appeal to the government.

"In the diplomatic wording of the bank, that is a shot across the bow to a government that isn't doing anything tangible," he said.

"With house prices skyrocketing by the day, the government needs to take action on both supply and demand, and take control of the situation."

The Greens' finance spokeswoman, Julie Anne Genter, says Mr Spencer's comments indicate the bank thinks the government could be doing much more than it is.

"When the Reserve Bank says a broad policy response is needed, it's pretty clear it wants to government to do more to help," she said.

"Tax advantages for property speculators have unbalanced our economy."

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