The Government’s strong pandemic response and recovery means not all the money allocated in the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund has been spent, Grant Robertson said in his annual pre-Budget speech to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce this morning.
“As part of Budget preparation I asked each Minister to look again at the areas of the COVID spending for which they were responsible to see if it was still required or still a priority, and whether underspends could be reprioritised,” Mr Robertson said.
“This exercise has yielded around $926 million worth of savings.
“We have committed to only spending what we need to in terms of our response and recovery. I am pleased that we have found these savings, and that they can be returned to the fund to aid our recovery from COVID-19 and targeted to where it is needed the most.”
He said the Budget would outline the details of the reprioritisations, describing Budget 2021 as a ‘recovery’ budget.
“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. We will strike a careful balance between continuing to invest in our recovery and beginning the task of reducing down the debt we took on to support New Zealanders through COVID-19.”
Mr Robertson said the Government has three priorities for this term.
“In addition to keeping New Zealanders safe from COVID-19, we are focused on accelerating 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.
“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.
“At a time where the Government is playing a much greater role in supporting the economy and investing for the future, it is crucial that we ensure that we are getting value for money from every dollar of spending, and that across the public service initiatives are being delivered in a way that supports our economic recovery,” he said.