New Zealand bud­get aims to de­liver on ‘Jacinda mania’

Viet Nam News - - ASIA -

WELLING­TON — New Zealand’s cen­tre-left gov­ern­ment boosted spend­ing on wel­fare and pub­lic ser­vices yes­ter­day in a maiden bud­get aimed at de­liv­er­ing on the prom­ises made dur­ing last year’s “Jacinda-mania” elec­tion campaign.

Health ser­vices were the cen­tre­piece of the bud­get’s spend­ing spree, af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern’s campaign prom­ises to help “left be­hind” vot­ers eked out a nar­row vic­tory for the pop­u­lar young leader’s gov­ern­ing Labour Party. An ex­tra NZ$4 bil­lion (US$2.76 bil­lion), or about 6.3 per cent, was al­lo­cated to health spend­ing through to 2021-22, in­clud­ing NZ$850 mil­lion to fix run-down hos­pi­tals.

Else­where an ex­tra NZ$1.6 bil­lion will be spent on schools to hire 1,500 new teach­ers, along with a prom­ise of 6,000 new pub­lic hous­ing dwellings.

“We can’t make up for nine years of ne­glect in just one bud­get, but these are the first steps in do­ing that,” said Fi­nance Min­is­ter Grant Robert­son.

“We are de­ter­mined to turn the page on the ide­ol­ogy of in­di­vid­u­al­ism and a hands-off ap­proach to the econ­omy that has left too many peo­ple be­hind,” he added.

Spend­ing to re­duce child poverty and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence was also boosted, along with sup­port ser­vices for refugees.

The gov­ern­ment had al­ready an­nounced a NZ$5.5 bil­lion fam­i­lies pack­age and a rise of NZ$700 mil­lion, or one third, in the foreign aid bud­get, much of it aimed at the coun­try’s im­pov­er­ished Pa­cific neigh­bours.

New out­lays were par­tially paid for by scrap­ping NZ$7.9 bil­lion in tax cuts promised by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, Robert­son said, a move Ardern fore­shad­owed dur­ing the elec­tion campaign.

He said the goal of re­duc­ing net gov­ern­ment debt to 20 per cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct had been pushed back two years to 2021-22 to al­low more spend­ing.

Net gov­ern­ment debt is cur­rently 20.8 per cent of GDP.

The bud­get op­ti­misti­cally fore­casts an­nual eco­nomic growth will av­er­age just be­low 3 per cent over the next five years, with un­em­ploy­ment ap­proach­ing the gov­ern­ment’s 4 per cent tar­get by 2021.

It pre­dicted a sur­plus of NZ$3.1 bil­lion in 2017-18, rising to NZ$3.7 bil­lion a year later.

Op­po­si­tion leader Si­mon Bridges said it was an “anti-busi­ness” bud­get that lacked vi­sion.

“This is a hugely dis­ap­point­ing bud­get of lit­tle imag­i­na­tion from a gov­ern­ment that is bor­row­ing more, tax­ing more and spend­ing more,” he said.

“But (it) has no plans for how we as a coun­try can earn more.” — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Viet Nam

© PressReader. All rights reserved.