New Zealand boosts welfare in Covid-19 recovery budget
Sydney, Australia, May 20 (EFE).- New Zealand on Thursday boosted social welfare and public investment in its national budget in response to the Covid-19 which shows a “stronger-than-expected” economic recovery.
According to the budget, some $2.37 million will be allocated to increase social assistance in order to tackle inequality and lift some 33,000 children out of poverty, which is one of the main challenges of the center-left government.
“Increasing incomes for our most vulnerable both secures our recovery by adding targeted stimulus to the economy, while also addressing one of our most pressing long term challenges – child poverty,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement.
The “wellbeing” budget, the third since 2019, also sets asides funds to improve the health, housing and education of the Maori people, as well as to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and for the vaccination rollout.
The budget, which has been criticized by the opposition for prioritizing benefits rather than expanding the economy and creating jobs, increases investment in infrastructure in the next five years to $41.13 billion.
The government, which has committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, allocated $215 million for developing low-carbon technology, among other measures to tackle climate change.
The country’s economy is expected to grow at 2.9 percent during this fiscal year and 4.4 percent in 2023 despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the government.
The budget deficit will peak at 5.3 percent of the GDP in June 2022 before falling to 0.6 percent by June 2025 while the net debt will peak at 48 percent of the GDP in 2023 before decreasing to 43.6 percent at the end of the forecast period.
“The economy has performed better than expected, thanks to the efforts of businesses, workers and the Government’s decisive and bold action through highly uncertain times,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in a statement.
Ardern has drawn praise from around the world for her handling of the pandemic that has allowed the country’s over five million inhabitants to live a relatively normal life for months. EFE