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Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard



Question No. 1—Finance

1. Dr DUNCAN WEBB (Labour—Christchurch Central) to the Minister of Finance: What recent reports has he seen on the New Zealand economy?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): The Crown Accounts, released this morning, continue to reflect the strong position New Zealand finds itself in as we meet the current global economic challenges. For the eight months to the end of February, the Operating Balance before Gains and Losses—the OBEGAL deficit—was $8.3 billion, $4.4 billion below that forecast in December’s Half-year Economic and Fiscal Update. Net core Crown debts stood at 35.2 percent of GDP, $1.9 billion less than had been expected and significantly below the countries with which we compare ourselves. Our strong position gives us the ability to provide meaningful support to low and middle income earners at this time, invest in meeting the long-term opportunities and challenges facing the New Zealand economy, while keeping a careful eye on our overall long-term fiscal position.

Dr Duncan Webb: What do the Crown Accounts indicate about the economic prospects for 2022?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The Crown Accounts results reflect the strength of the economy and that we have come through COVID not only with one of the best health responses in the world, but one of the strongest economic outcomes globally. We do need to acknowledge, however, that 2022 will be a challenging year for many households and businesses, and we will need to take a cautious approach to support them through this. We are in a strong position to do this. But, as the International Monetary Fund said last week when they congratulated New Zealand for our strong fiscal and economic position, they also warned against tax cuts at this time while the economy is rebuilding.

Dr Duncan Webb: What other reports has he seen on the New Zealand economy?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The resilience of the jobs market is continuing to support the economy. Last week, Stats New Zealand did report that filled jobs in February had edged down by 0.3 percent, compared with January, but still remaining at record highs of 2.29 million people in work. The SEEK New Zealand Employment Report released today shows a number of job advertisements in March rose 2 percent compared with February, to a record high. On an annual basis, growth was 27 percent. And TradeMe reported today that there was a record 81,984 vacancies listed on its site in the March quarter. They also indicated that wages were rising with the average salary for advertised roles—up 4 percent to $65,799. The strong jobs market shows that the Government’s actions in response to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic have proven to be the best economic approach. The opening of borders to foreign workers and tourists will also accelerate this recovery.