Scrutiny needed over Covid spend-up ahead of election

Finance Minister Grant Robertson needs to give New Zealanders confidence that the Covid Recovery Fund isn’t just going to be used for election bribes, National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“With the regulated period setting in from midnight Thursday, the Government needs to clarify what the decision making process will be around spending the $50 billion fund they’ve set up for responding to Covid-19. 

“As part of the overall fund, the Government had more than $20 billion available unallocated at the Budget for subsequent spending.

“They’ve announced at least $2 billion since and there’s a very legitimate question to be asked what they plan to do with remaining $18 billion in the lead up to the election, particularly given the start of the regulatory period on Friday.

“At Select Committee today, Finance Minister Grant Robertson made it clear the Government’s priority was to continue to shovel money out the door during the election campaign.

“The very real concern Kiwis have is that this Government will spend whatever it takes to defer the consequences of the lockdown until after the election, and then if re-elected present New Zealanders with the bill.

“There needs to be appropriate checks and balances so New Zealanders have confidence that this spending isn’t just election bribes.

“That’s why we need to see additional and immediate transparency about the businesses cases, Regulatory Impact Statements, and cost benefit analysis.

“These normal disciplines were stopped by the Government during Covid but at a time when the Government is spending more money than ever, we need proper scrutiny.”