The Government may step in to guarantee loans to businesses hit by Covid-19 disruption, a sign that it fears the disruption to travel and trade could last for months.
As part of a plan to help businesses which are facing a direct hit from the disruption, Robertson confirmed that the Government was working on a package of wage subsidies for workers in the most adversely affect sectors, as well as new training programmes.
Both plans are a result of lobbying from the business sector, in particular from tourism related businesses hit by a sharp downturn in international visitors since late January.
Robertson gave almost no detail on the scale of the plan, or when it might be in place, beyond saying more details will be announced in the coming days.
"We have to have some time limits around it, so that will also affect it. But we have to work through those matters now, with the business community," Robertson said.
Robertson also revealed that the plan could also effectively take the government into business loans, revealing he is "working with banks on the potential for future working capital support for companies that face temporary credit constraints".
BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope said wage subsidies, and a pledge that government departments would pay their bills quickly, could be in place soon.
But any measure to offer capital to companies was unlikely to be considered in the short term, Hope said.
"If this went on for a prolonged period of time, it's something they might have a look at," Hope said.
Michael Reddell, a former senior official at the Reserve Bank said Robertson's statements suggested the banks and the government may come up with a scheme where a company's bank remained liable for existing loans, but if further credit was required, some or all of the liability would fall on the Crown.
"I guess what they're worried about is that banks may be unwilling to extend credit to companies that are finding their income drying up and their outgoings are not," Reddell said.
"There's billions and billions of lost income and it's not coming back."
During the Global Financial Crisis the Crown guaranteed the loans of banks, major institutions which the Reserve Bank and Treasury were familiar with and could assess.
In this case it would be to individual companies which the Government knew little about, creating new risks. "It will be really hard to devise a scheme that isn't gamed and/or very costly to the Crown," Reddell said.
Monday's announcement came on a day when the bond yield on Government loans, both in New Zealand and around the world, dropped to record lows, as investors looked for safe places to store money.
Expectations hardened that the Reserve Bank will cut interest rates late this month, with ANZ, BNZ and Kiwibank all saying a 50 basis point cut is likely, taking the official cash rate to a new record low of 0.5 per cent.
In a bid to boost confidence in the banking system, the Reserve Bank and the New Zealand Bankers' Association issued a joint statement saying banks were prepared to cope with Covid-19.
Governor Adrian Orr said the Reserve Bank was monitoring for signs of funding market pressures or emerging signs of credit stress.
"We have not seen any significant pressures at this stage," Orr said.
"At the Reserve Bank we are prepared in our business continuity role to ensure a well-functioning financial system, including enabling access to cash, ensuring sufficient liquidity in the banking system, and managing a stable payments and settlements system," Orr said.
NZBA chief executive Roger Beaumont said banks were prepared to discuss the possibility of suspending principal payments or restructuring loans, providing access to short term funding, or referring customers to budgeting services.
Beaumont declined to comment on Robertson's statement about providing working capital.