Coronavirus business package 'most significant' Ardern will announce as PM

Source: 1News

The yet-to-be released business continuity plan to target workers and employers hit hard by the impact of coronavirus "will be the most significant package I will announce while I am Prime Minister", Jacinda Ardern said today. 

There’s support available for those impacted as the virus spreads, the Prime Minister told Breakfast.

Ms Ardern told TVNZ1's Q+A with Jack Tame this morning the package will be "significant, it will be designed to carry people through the worst of this event".

Many businesses have been plunged into uncertainty as Covid-19 has impacted sectors such as tourism, forestry and hospitality.

Yesterday, Ms Ardern announced all travellers except those from the Pacific will need to self-isolate for 14 days on entering New Zealand. 

Today, Ms Ardern said the business package is set to be announced on Tuesday after it has gone to Cabinet. 

She said it would be the most significant "in terms of things I will do as a one-off, as a singular package".

Ms Ardern said it would be about both employers and employees and would be targeted.

"If you target, your support can be most generous more likely to keep people in work. Targeted is what we’ve focused on.

"You’ve seen other countries do singular payments, for me, looking at that I don’t know if that would be sufficient to keep people connected to the labour market."

Last week, Finance Minister Grant Robertson outlined details of the business continuity plan.

It included "a targeted wage subsidy package for workers in the most adversely" impacted sectors and training and redeployment options for employees and "working with banks on the potential for future working for capital support for companies that face temporary credit constraints".

Treasury and IRD were developing tax policy options "in line with the goal of reducing the impact for effected businesses, and for business to maintain operational continuity" and Treasury and Ministry of Social Development were looking at policies to support households. 

Ms Ardern said the cost of the wider economic impact - "What we know is that this will be hugely significant for the New Zealand economy."

"I had advice two weeks ago that will already be redundant, this is moving so quickly."

On Thursday, Mr Robertson spoke of the 'macroeconomic package' that was being developed if the impact of Covid-19 causes a major, sustained global economic downturn. 

"Such measures could include tax and welfare changes that support incomes and consumption, and help businesses stay afloat.

"We want to make sure that this scale of intervention would not only support incomes but also our overall economic, environmental and social goals.  

National's Simon Bridges said this morning a bold economic response was "critical to limit the financial fallout from the coronavirus".

"These restrictions, particularly the decision to include Australia, are the most consequential decisions a New Zealand Government has made in recent memory.

"It will largely shut down the tourism industry and have far-reaching ramifications.  

"We want to support the Government, but we do need to see the analysis and advice these actions were based on, urgently."