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Clarity Needed On Wage Subsidy Scheme

As National supports the urgent wage subsidy to businesses affected by COVID-19, we request the Minister of Finance to clarify the assumptions underlying the policy, National’s Finance Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Grant Robertson today was very vague about the assumptions underlying this $5 billion policy.

“Wage subsidies for struggling businesses are urgently needed and National welcomes the policy.

“Our primary concern with the Government’s scheme is that businesses can only claim subsidies for the first 21 employees.

“Basic questions need to be answered, such as how many workers are expected to be covered.

“Based on data from MBIE, there are 600,000 workers in New Zealand who work for a business with fewer than 20 employees. For the 15,000 businesses with more than 20 employees, there are only around 300,000 workers who will be eligible to be covered.

“That means there are approximately 900,000 workers eligible for the wage subsidy scheme. Yet based off the $5.1 billion policy, the Government is assuming over 700,000 workers will need to be subsidised.

“It seems unrealistic to think that over 80 per cent of eligible workers will be subsidised over the next 12 weeks.

“The Government needs to release the data and assumptions underlying the policy. The Minister of Finance’s refusal to immediately release the Cabinet Paper underpinning the policy is appalling.

“Major spending decisions, no matter how urgent, deserve basic scrutiny.”

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