New Zealand Finance Minister Bill English laid out four government priorities to continue to build the economy and pledged a return to an operating surplus next year, when he delivered his annual Budget to Parliament Thursday. The election-year budget also included important investments in families and public assets, English said in his published speech to Parliament. "The government has moved from managing our way out of recession to managing a growing economy," said English. "Businesses are investing, wages are rising faster than inflation, and our export sector is posting record results despite the headwinds of disruption in international markets," he said. The government remained on track to meet its two fiscal targets: getting back to surplus in the 2014-2015 fiscal year and bringing net core debt back down to 20 percent of GDP by 2020. Budget forecasts showed an operating surplus of 372 million NZ dollars (322.47 million U.S. dollars) next year, increasing to 1.3 billion NZ dollars (1.13 billion U.S. dollars), 2.4 billion NZ dollars (2.08 billion U.S. dollars) and 3.5 billion NZ dollars (3. 03 billion U.S. dollars) respectively over the following three years. The government was increasing investment in health and education, including tertiary education, to more than 28 billion NZ dollars (24.26 billion U.S. dollars). The budget also contained a support package worth 500 million NZ dollars (433.2 million U.S. dollars) to help families and children. The government's four main priorities for this term were: to responsibly manage its finances; to build a more productive and competitive economy; to deliver better public services; and to support the rebuild of earthquake-battered Christchurch. "The government will stick to its 1 billion NZ dollars (866.77 million U.S. dollars) a year operating allowance in this budget. The allowance will increase to 1.5 billion NZ dollars (1.3 billion U.S. dollars) in budget 2015 and then by 2 percent a year," said English. "This is a moderate increase that will provide the government with future options around investment in public services and modest tax reductions." New Zealand's economy grew by 3.1 percent in 2013, the fifth- highest rate in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) group of developed countries, he said. The budget forecasts showed growth of between 2 percent and 4 percent over each of the next four years, with growth forecast to peak at 4 percent in the year to March 2015. The stronger economy saw 84,000 jobs created in the past year and the average wage rise by 3,000 NZ dollars (2,600 U.S. dollars) in the past three years to 54,700 NZ dollars (47,404 U.S. dollars). "Looking ahead, there are huge opportunities for New Zealand as countries in the Asia-Pacific region develop rapidly and demand more of what we produce," said English. "The government is looking to support people and business to take risks, create new products and services, adapt to market pressures and enjoy success."