Thursday, 11 June 2020

No, Prime Minister, the economy isn’t back


“New data shows the Prime Minister is pulling the wool over New Zealanders’ eyes when it comes to the economic impacts of Covid-19,” according to ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Jacinda Ardern said on Newstalk ZB nine days ago that ‘By and large, the economy is back’.

“But, in the last 24 hours, the OECD and the Reserve Bank have totally undermined that claim by painting a grim picture of the economy.

“The OECD yesterday predicted an 8.9 percent drop in GDP this year, almost double the Budget forecast of a 4.6 percent fall.

“ACT said at the time of the Budget that the Government’s forecasts were heroic, and it appears the OECD agrees with us.

“This morning the Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Geoff Bascand said in a webinar that we are headed for a very deep recession with plenty of economic pain ahead and business failures and unemployment still building. He said we shouldn’t delude ourselves because the economic crisis is far from over.

“Clearly the economic and fiscal impacts of this crisis are going to be much greater than the Prime Minister and the Government have told New Zealanders.

“The Government’s economic plan is not going to work the way it had hoped. Instead of aiming for perfection on a single measure, borrowing billions, and hoping for a vaccine that might not arrive for many months, ACT has said we need to build resilience in post-Covid-19 world.

“The Prime Minister should announce that she is unilaterally opening the border to Australia and the Pacific Islands and creating the world’s smartest border by using technology like Datamine’s ëlarm.

“ëlarm is an early warning system for Covid-19 designed to be used with wearable devices such as Fitbit and Apple Watch. It detects Covid-19 in the 48 hours when a person becomes infectious but does not have symptoms.

“A person wishing to enter New Zealand from Australia and the Pacific Islands could submit the output of their device for the preceding days and undertake to continue to do so for several days after entering. A negative result would all but guarantee the person was not infected. A positive result would allow a person to be rapidly isolated.

“This technology could allow people to be fast-tracked through quarantine, allowing businesses to get access to the outside world and back to normal faster.

“Given there are no cases of Covid-19 in the Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue, and minimal cases in Australia, what’s the hold up? The economic pain of continuing to keep the border closed is massive and the health benefits minimal.

“We also need more certainty from the Government and a clear plan for restarting the economy. Borrowing billions and hoping for a vaccine won’t cut it.

“The Government should consider ACT’s clear, comprehensive 6-point plan to cut taxes and red tape, go for growth, create new job opportunities, have the smartest borders in the world, and take on less debt.”