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Credit For Credit Ratings Where Credit's Due!

The Minister of Finance should calm down before claiming credit for the decision by Standard and Poors to remove the negative credit watch on New Zealand, National's Finance spokesman Bill English said today.

"The negative credit watch went on as a result of the Asian economic crisis and two years of successive droughts. New Zealand's recovery from that has been driven by much more favourable meat and milk prices as well as better weather. Prompt action taken by the Government in 1998 laid the foundation for a quick recovery in the Government's accounts.

"Dr Cullen has a lot of fiscal fat to feed on, and he will need it because the red ink is starting to flow in sensitive areas like health and police. The brakes have come off Government spending across the board and the example of profligate spending by Dr Cullen himself on the loss making People's Bank sends a bad signal. That $80m could have been used for creating the future economy rather than digging up relics from the past.

"Dr Cullen's complacent confidence is out of step with the cautious mood of business who have seen the good times come and go before," Mr English said.

Ends


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