Government’s economic claims ring hollow

The Finance Minister’s claim that his Government have been careful economic managers rings hollow given it turned a forecast $6 billion surplus into a $1 billion projected deficit before the Covid-19 crisis, National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Labour, NZ First and the Greens inherited surpluses as far as the eye could see from the previous National Government and burned through the lot within two years, plunging New Zealand back into a forecast $1 billion deficit before Covid-19.

“A combination of poor quality spending and lower growth took New Zealand back to deficits at a time when we should have been doing well.

“The Government blew their budget allowances in Budget 2018 and Budget 2019, resulting in permanently higher levels of Government spending, again before the Covid-19 crisis.

“Extra government spending in response to the pandemic has been justified, especially the wage subsidies, but that necessity doesn’t erase the poor quality spending that preceded it.

“Whether it be the hundreds of millions wasted on the ineffective Fees Free programme, the $3 billion shamelessly given to Shane Jones for a mixed bag of projects, or the embarrassing $2 billion KiwiBuild scheme that crashed and burned.

“The past week alone has seen the Government caught wasting $3000 a week on ‘uninhabitable’ houses in South Auckland and gifting $11 million to a private school in Taranaki.

“At a time when the country is losing thousands of jobs a week, we need less self-congratulation from the Government and more detail on how it will back businesses, large and small, as they seek to navigate immense challenges.”