Minister won’t say how much more taxpayers will be up for

Finance Minister Grant Robertson won’t say how much extra taxpayers will have to foot to pay for the current lockdown, says National’s Finance spokesperson Michael Woodhouse.

Appearing before the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee today, the Minister refused to say whether the Covid Response and Recovery Fund had sufficient available funds to pay for the latest lockdown, despite having burned through up to $55 billion of the $62 billion allocated so far, much of it on non-Covid spending.

“Despite this, Mr Robertson did concede he has had discussions with Treasury officials about asking Parliament for further funds but would not commit to an amount required.

“I’m confident the latest lockdown will require the Government to seek further funds and I am calling on the Minister to be upfront with taxpayers about how much that will be.

“The Minister also refused to concede that the Covid Fund had been used inappropriately, despite initiatives such as funding for libraries, animal wellbeing, and funds for Radio New Zealand and Jobs for Nature coming from the Covid Response Fund.

“National believes the Covid fund should be used only for matters directly related to Covid and the country’s response, including wage subsidies and extra health resources for testing and vaccines, rather than being used as cover for the Government’s pet projects.”