Covid-19 lockdown: ‘We’ve shown that we come back quickly’ – Robertson

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Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the news of new community cases does not change the government’s assumptions about the economy.

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Robertson yesterday said businesses which have a 40 percent drop in revenue will be eligible for the wage subsidy scheme. Businesses can also apply for the resurgence support payment, he said.

Speaking this afternoon, he said the economy “can be resilient in the face of these kinds of outbreaks and I’m confident we will be here too”.

Robertson also said the virtue of the wage subsidy scheme was its simplicity and speed. While elements of it have been tweaked as time has gone on, he said they were not planning to make changes at this point.

He said the government felt the level of restrictions on the scheme was “about right”.

The vast majority of employees and employers are following the rules, he said.

There is some spare capacity within the labour market, he said, and the government is continuing to work with critical industries to figure out how that can be used.

“Clearly if we were in a situation as we were last year and we had a very extended lockdown, the Reserve Bank would look at what its role is.”

He said the government did not need to take on additional borrowing at this time.

“We’ve also shown that we come back quickly, that exports maintain during a period like this.”

Robertson, who is also the Wellington Central MP, acknowledges that the timing of the outbreak is particularly difficult for the region, particularly for the hospitality industry with Wellington On A Plate and Burge Wellington going on.

“My heart does go out to them,” he said.

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