Economy

RBNZ pays biggest dividend

 The Reserve Bank has paid its biggest dividend in three years after its bottom line was boosted by the weaker Kiwi dollar.

The central bank paid $430 million as a dividend to the government in September, its third biggest, and up from $145 million a year earlier. The RBNZ reaped a $237 million gain on foreign exchange revaluations in the year ended June 30, compared to a loss of $66 million in 2017. That gain underpinned an almost trebling of the central bank's annual surplus to $456 million from $155 million, the bank's annual report shows. 

A new dividend policy introduced for the Reserve Bank in 2009 allows the distribution to include foreign exchange movements if there is an expectation gains will be crystallised. The finance minister makes the call with advice from the RBNZ's board and audit committee, among others. 

This year's return to the government is the biggest since a $510 million dividend in 2015, and will support the Crown's expectations for an operating surplus of $3.14 billion. The Treasury will formally release the June-year accounts next week. 

The RBNZ's open foreign currency position, which reflects the moving valuation, was $3.21 billion as at June 30, up from $2.89 billion a year earlier. The biggest positions were $770 million-worth of euros and $728 million of US dollars. 

Governor Adrian Orr, who joined the Reserve Bank in March, said the bank is undergoing major change, with its governing legislation being reviewed. 

"A key focus since being in the seat has been to acknowledge that our internal and external relationships must improve, and our service levels and performance [must be] benchmarked," he said. "To achieve this we’re now focusing on building our capabilities, resources and diversity, and operating as a great team." 

The board's annual review of management gave the bank and its executive a pass mark through a period of upheaval. It noted Orr's recognition of the need to reduce a spike in staff turnover from 12 percent in the June 2017 year to 19 percent this year. However this increase was due in part to a number of retirements, contractors, and staff secondments, it said. 

Chair Neil Quigley and deputy Kerrin Vautier said the board was satisfied the Reserve Bank's monetary policy settings were appropriate given the uncertain inflation environment. 

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