COVID-19: More needed from government package-Brown

The government this week announced a $12 billion economic package to help businesses and Kiwi families who will be struggling as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and while it is a welcome first step, more is needed, says Simeon Brown, MP for Pakuranga.

 He states “I am supportive of the government’s announcement today and am pleased to see them taking the economic impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic seriously, but this package does not go far enough towards supporting businesses.”

 “One of the main concerns is around the support available for medium-sized businesses, as the wage subsidy is capped at $150,000 per employer, or about 21 full-time employees.”

He then elaborated that many bigger businesses will be placed in a precarious position pertaining to staff retention:

 “This package fails to understand the significant impact medium and large businesses will feel from the COVID-19 situation. Many will be left out in the cold and will struggle to hold onto staff during the inevitable economic downturn, particularly when coupled with a minimum wage rise on the horizon.”

“The point of a significant support package like this should be to save jobs, but a massive chunk of it is going to beneficiaries through a main benefit increase and a doubling of the winter energy payment.”

 “While this may increase support for those who lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic, the focus should be placed more heavily on saving their jobs in the first place.”

 “Most businesses don’t want to lose their employees, but many will have no choice if they want to stay afloat and if the government won’t offer them adequate support.”

Whilst supportive of the package directed towards health, he believes the money should be spent in full to stockpile medical equipment.

 “I am also supportive of the $500 million earmarked for health spending as a result of COVID-19, though again I have concerns about the focus.”

 “Around $200 million of that amount is being held back for future purchases of medical supplies, medicines, and flu vaccines, and I question why that money isn’t being spent immediately. Surely we should be stocking up now while New Zealand’s case count is still low. We also desperately need more COVID-19 tests and ventilators for our hospitals.”

 “I applaud the government on moving quickly to provide some economic relief, but I implore them to do more and do it fast. In a situation like the one we’re in, it is far better to have the supplies available and not need them than be left choosing some lives over others.”

 “As a country we need to be more proactive than reactive, and National will continue to push for what’s needed during these uncertain times.”