Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
Question No. 1—Finance
1. BARBARA EDMONDS (Labour—Mana) to the Minister of Finance: What recent reports has he seen on the New Zealand economy?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): The International Monetary Fund on Saturday released its annual review for New Zealand, where they reiterated that New Zealand had found itself in a strong position as a result of the successful management of the pandemic, with strong health and economic policies supporting a quick recovery from lockdowns in 2021. They again highlighted that the economy had rebounded strongly in 2021 and that the expected border reopening will provide an additional economic boost to the tourism and education sectors. The IMF also noted that our public debt levels are expected to remain low compared with many of the countries we compare ourselves with, that our debt sustainability remains robust, and that there is substantial headroom to respond to further challenges.
Barbara Edmonds: What did the report say about fiscal policy supporting the economy?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The IMF noted that New Zealand had started withdrawing across-the-board fiscal support due to the strong position we find ourselves in and that the pace of that withdrawal was appropriate. It says that given the highly uncertain global environment, fiscal policy should remain nimble as economic conditions and the pandemic evolves and provide for additional targeted support where needed. Fiscal policy should also focus on promoting long-term growth while addressing emerging structural issues. We are taking a balanced approach and making sure that our spending continues to be carefully prioritised and targeted at the areas and people that require it the most, including supporting low and middle income New Zealanders dealing with costs of living pressures through increases to Working for Families, superannuation, benefit levels, student allowances, and the minimum wage, as well as the resumption of the winter energy payment. Of course, we’ve also reduced fuel excise duty and road user charges, and halved public transport fares.
Barbara Edmonds: What other reports has he seen on the economy?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The resilience of the jobs market is continuing to support the economy. The SEEK NZ Employment Report rose 2.6 percent last month compared to March to a record high and is up 50 percent for the year. The BNZ said that this mirrored recent surveys, showing that firms do intend to hire more people. BNZ said the easing of restrictions was reflected in hospitality and tourism, with a 30 percent jump in job ads. Some of the—[ringing sound in Chamber] Some regions, such as Otago, which have a reliance on tourism, have exhibited the biggest gains. 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, and the opening of the borders to foreign workers and tourists will accelerate this growth.
SPEAKER: That was a rather unsubtle comment on the length of the answer.