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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

Question No. 3—Finance

3. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Finance: How much of the $62.1 billion of available support in response to COVID-19 has been allocated so far, and, of the amount allocated, how much money has been spent to date?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): The Government has set aside $62 billion for investments to support the economy through this one-in-100-year pandemic. This includes the $50 billion COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund announced in the Budget and the initial $12 billion economic package on 17 March. To date, about $44.4 billion has been announced and allocated over the forecast period, including for schemes to protect jobs and support businesses, like the wage subsidy scheme and changes to the tax system. At the same time, the Government has committed significant new investment for essential public services like health and education. In answer to the second part of the question, the Crown accounts for the 2020 fiscal year have not yet been finalised, but Treasury forecasts that more than $26 billion will be spent in the current year to 30 June.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: What boundaries or rules, if any, has he put on spending the unallocated $18 billion or so during the election period?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The boundaries and rules are that that is the COVID Response and Recovery Fund. It is designed to ensure that New Zealand can continue to respond to COVID-19 in the way that we have, which means that we respond as need arises and support New Zealanders to get through this. We will continue to spend as is needed and as is required.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: How does he assure New Zealanders that his Government won’t spend whatever it thinks it might take to keep its poll numbers up until 19 September, before presenting New Zealanders with the bill on the 20th, if they succeed?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The assurance I can give the member is that I don’t view the world the way he does.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he believe higher taxes will be necessary to pay back the debt incurred so far from the COVID fund and that forecast over the next three years?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: As I’ve said in this House before, the way that New Zealand will get through this is to grow our economy sustainably. The long-term projections show that debt will reduce as we do that.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he rule out any increases to income taxes if he has a chance to carry on being the Minister of Finance?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I’m responsible as the Minister of Finance in this Government. This Government has been very clear and our record shows over these months that we’re interested in putting money into the pockets of New Zealanders.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: How does he think increasing fuel taxes again tomorrow will help New Zealanders get through the post COVID-19 recession?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: We’re going to come to that matter in a moment, but I would say that the member will be well aware that fuel taxes, as they are paid for through the fuel excise duty and the road user charges, are hypothecated to transport. That is an engine of growth in the economy. And I do note that, in the wake of the global financial crisis, when the previous Government was in power, on 1 October 2009 they increased fuel excise duty by 7 percent.