Thursday, 19 August 2021

The rainy day is here, so where’s the COVID fund?


“The day has arrived where businesses will rightly need support from the Government after they’ve been forced to close but the rainy-day fund has already been raided,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The Government has been dipping into the $50 billion COVID fund, with $515 million on school lunches, $26.6 million for cameras on fishing boats and the day we went into lockdown it announced $17.1 million from the fund for ‘creative spaces.’

"Other spending includes: delivery of a business case for the replacement of Te Papa's Spirit Collection Area, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the implementation and the Housing Acceleration Fund. 

“There was $5.1 billion in fund three months ago, but the Government has been doing its best to shovel that out the door.

“Now, when we really need this fund, the Government needs to answer why it’s been throwing the money around on non-COVID related spending.

“During the election campaign, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said of National “It beggars belief that in the middle of a pandemic the National Party is planning to gut the money set aside to protect New Zealanders in case of another major outbreak of Covid-19 ... we carefully put aside $14 billion to look after New Zealanders' health and wellbeing and now National wants to put that at risk."

“Mr Robertson should answer whether the carefully put aside money was always intended for ‘creative spaces’ and a school lunches programme that a recent report shows has done nothing to improve attendance or academic achievement.

ACT’s Alternative Budget, released in May, would have left the COVID Relief and Recovery Fund for COVID right now, drawing it down over four years as conditions improve. That is a responsible way to handle such a fund.

“Every extra dollar government spends right now will have to be taxed later.

“It’s the kids currently at intermediate who’ll lose. They’ll pay higher taxes for fewer services tomorrow because of politicians’ irresponsibility today. Borrowing now and forgetting tomorrow is damaging the next generation.”