New Zealand unveils 7.3 billion dollar stimulus package to counter Covid19 pandemic

AFP
Published Mar 17, 2020, 9:17 am IST
Updated Mar 17, 2020, 9:17 am IST
The centre-left government said it was the equivalent of three years' worth of budget operational funding in one go
File photo of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern. AP Photo
 File photo of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern. AP Photo

Wellington:  New Zealand unveiled a NZ$12.1 billion (US$7.3 billion) stimulus package Tuesday as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern raided the nation's "rainy day" fund to soften the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson conceded "recession is almost certain" but said the package -- which focuses on wage subsidies, tax breaks and a boost to healthcare -- would help contain its impact.

 

The centre-left government said it was the largest peacetime spending spree in modern New Zealand history -- the equivalent of three years' worth of budget operational funding in one go.

Robertson likened it to a defensive tackle from the country's famous All Blacks rugby union team.

"We are in for a fight against an outside force beyond our control that is wreaking havoc around the globe, we are up for that fight," he told parliament.

"There is no better defensive line than the All Blacks and it is just the same with our people as we face this virus."

Ardern said government finances were set up to include provision for emergency response.

"We've always been prepared for the fact that a rainy day could befall us," she said. "As a nation, that is part of the Shaky Isles, which experiences volcanoes, extreme weather events, earthquakes."

Market reaction to the package was positive, with the NZX 50 up 0.89 percent at 9,561.23 after days of heavy losses.

New Zealand has just eight confirmed coronavirus cases and no fatalities, for a population of nearly five million.

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