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Yesterday’s accidental cheap loans announcement, half-baked and without costings, shows the Government is scrambling at a time when we need calm heads, National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said today.

“The Government discovered on Thursday night that it had mistakenly legislated for its small business cashflow scheme.

“So Grant Robertson announced it yesterday, hoping nobody would notice.

“They have given no estimate of how much it would cost, but in theory it could run to many billions of dollars.

“National understands the policy hasn’t been to Cabinet for approval.

“Small businesses, which are now facing their seventh week with zero revenue, are absolutely deserving of more help from the Government to save jobs.

“However, New Zealanders expect its Government to have gone past the panic stage of the crisis and to be capable of carefully thinking through detailed policy that will target assistance to those most in need.

“Instead, Ministers just lifted the eligibility criteria for the wage subsidy scheme, which was thrown together in haste early on.  

“That criteria is so loose that we have seen most businesses can collect it, including previously highly profitable professional services firms. The Government should be capable of focusing resources on those who need it most.

“At the same time, the wording is so vague – businesses must declare they are viable – that some firms genuinely needing help might be put off for fear of getting their judgments wrong.

“National’s view is that rather than offering cheap loans to all sorts of companies, with loose criteria, the Government should be getting cash to those businesses that desperately need it – for example, to firms suffering a 60 per cent drop in revenue for two successive months because of the lockdown.

“Truly desperate small businesses need cash not more debt, however cheap.”

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