Budget 2021 to shuffle $1b of unspent Covid-19 funds, Finance Minister reveals

Source: 1News

The Government revealed today it will shuffle almost $1 billion worth of the unspent Covid-19 funding during this year's Budget, where it outlines where the country's money will go in the next year.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson also announced the Government's priorities this term, which included addressing housing affordability, climate change and child wellbeing.

Robertson outlined in his pre-Budget speech today from Wellington that there is $926 million left from the Covid recovery fund, after asking ministers if there were underspends that could be reprioritised.

"Budget 2021 will be a recovery Budget," Robertson said.

"New Zealand’s economy continues to perform better than forecast, but we know that the impacts of Covid-19 are still being felt around the world."

He said the Government has three priorities this term: keep New Zealanders safe, accelerate the economic recovery and "addressing big three long-term challenges, housing affordability, climate change and child wellbeing".

"The Prime Minister has also tasked me as Deputy Prime Minister to lead a new implementation unit based in her department to ensure we are tackling these core priorities," Robertson said.

“The unit will be funded through Budget 2021 and will monitor and support implementation of a small number of critical initiatives, particularly where multiple agencies are involved in the work.

Budget 2021 is to be held on May 20.

The $50b Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund was established last year during the midst of the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Tourism and immigration were also in the sight of the Finance Minister.

“The acceleration of our recovery also needs to look at some of the challenges we face post-Covid.

“Tourism is a particular example. Now is the opportunity to look to reset this industry. Pre-Covid, many in the industry and outside were concerned that the growth in tourist numbers was not sustainable, from an economic or environmental perspective.”

An inquiry into immigration settings was already announced by the Finance Minister yesterday.

“Clearly, inward migration is well below forecast and will be so for some time,” Robertson said.

“We are working with sectors particularly affected to both ensure some workers can still come to New Zealand but also to train and employ those who are already here to fill these roles.”