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New Zealand moves from welfare budget to focus on Covid recovery | New Zeland

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After successfully passing Covid-19 without a public or financial health disaster, New Zealand’s finance minister is setting limits on expectations for radical public spending in the countries’ next budget.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson gave a brief overview of New Zealand’s post-Covid economy vision in his first major pre-budget speech Tuesday morning.

Against the backdrop of Covid, the 2021 budget will take a balanced approach that continues to highlight investments where they are most needed, along with prudent fiscal management, Robertson said in his address to the trade commission.

Current finances will not be announced until May 20th. But the carefully crafted speech by Robertsons will dampen hopes for a radical offer later in the month. Robertson outlined the 2021 recovery budget and outlined three core goals for the government mandate: In addition to keeping New Zealand safe from Covid-19, we focused on accelerating our economic recovery and addressing three key challenges: housing affordability, change of climate and child welfare.

When the Ardern-led Labor government came to power, one of its most internationally celebrated announcements was the first welfare budget in 2019. In addition to the budget itself, the government announced a redesign of how future spending would be approached: in instead of simply using economics metrics like GDP, government and the Treasury would use a much wider range of outcomes, including human health, safety and prosperity, to assess the success of policies. New vision involved a complete panel, known as the living standards framework, to find out how the country was performing. In his 2019 speech, Robertson said that not only has this budget measured our success differently, we have embedded well-being at every stage of creating this budget from setting priorities to analyzing proposals to make exchanges inevitable. that come with the privilege of being in government.

The approach won New Zealand international titles at the time. It also raised hopes that the adoption of another set of measures would reshape spending policies and priorities by incentive domestic governments to take radical action in some of New Zealand while enduring social and environmental problems, even when it cost the masses dearly. such as GDP.

But GDP, unemployment and net government debt were the figures at the forefront of Robertson’s 2021 budget speech. Not to mention the living standards framework, which some commentators hoped would transform the country’s approach to budgeting for years to come. . Instead, the minister stressed the commitment of Labor governments to prudent fiscal management and debt reduction. From a fiscal perspective, the 2021 budget will continue our prudent and balanced approach, he said. It is possible that the welfare framework was still ingrained at every stage of this budgeting, but in Robertsons’ presentation, it was largely out of sight.

It is simply not possible to fulfill every promise or commitment we have made or addressed all of our long-term challenges on a single budget, Robertson said.

Copies of the 2019 Welfare budget
Copies of the 2019 welfare budget. Photos: Hagen Hopkins / Getty Images

His outline walked in a narrow line between measured spending and savings. Despite a recurring focus on fiscal prudence, he said a shift to austerity simply means it takes more time for us to rebuild society in pursuit of numerical goals that ignore the real world in which we live. It all has to do with adjusting the balance.

The government had already spent less on Covid relief and response than expected – $ 926 million less, across the government. Robertson said these savings could now be directed at regenerating Covid countries.

In terms of social spending, Robertson outlined three key priorities: affordable housing, child welfare, and climate change. The minister gave little in terms of how spending on those priorities would be met, but hinted at further investment to try to meet recommendations from the Independent Climate Commission.

Almost every sector of our economy has been affected by the carbon budgets outlined by the Climate Commission, Robertson said.

I will have more to say at budget time about our approach to meeting the objectives we have set, but we will continue to seek not only the measures we need to take to reduce emissions, but the opportunities and possibilities that exist to create high pay and stable jobs.

In an effort to meet its goals, the government would set up a new enforcement unit headed by Robertson and based in the prime minister’s office. This unit would monitor whether government departments were actually implementing their programs and spending appropriately. The unit would make Robertson governments unofficial minister for distribution, Introduces senior political journalists wrote, and is based on a similar unit developed by Tony Blair. This comes after several high-profile government projects, including the light rail and the KiwiBuild initiative to create more affordable housing, tried to make progress.

At a time when government is playing a much bigger role in supporting the economy and investing for the future, it is essential to ensure that we get value for money, Robertson said.

Keeping the country borders closed by Covid-19 had also prompted the government to look into regulating the tourism sector. In late 2020, Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said the country needed to reshape its tourism offering to cater to a smaller number of high-value visitors, who would spend more and put less pressure on the infrastructure. Now is the opportunity to look to revitalize the industry, Robertson said. Before Covid, many in the industry and abroad were concerned that the increase in the number of tourists was not sustainable, from an economic or environmental perspective.

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