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Finance Minister Grant Robertson says an extended time at alert level 4 might trigger more support including residential or commercial rent relief or mortgage repayment holidays - but they weren't needed at this stage.
Robertson is the first of a line-up of ministers expected to front to Opposition and other MPs in virtual select committees this week after the Prime Minister's decision to suspend the sitting of Parliament.
Robertson told the Finance and Expenditure committee that the economy was well-positioned, with unemployment at 4 per cent and lower than expected net debt.
He said that 127,935 businesses already had wage subsidy applications approved, which had seen $484.4m already paid out to businesses.
Only one firm with more than 500 full time employees had applied for the wage subsidy, he said, indicating that many larger firms were comfortable with their current financial positions.
"We have more than enough" to support New Zealanders through the lockdown, he said.
Budget 2021 saw $5 billion left in the Covid response and recovery fund, and Robertson said there was likely an extra $2b through underspending in allocated funds such as for the small business cashflow scheme.
There was also another $400m left within the business finance guarantee scheme, he said, and "smaller funds of money in other parts of the Covid response fund as well".
Asked about support for renters and students, Robertson said there was Ministry of Social Development support available, and noted the boost to student allowances from Budget 2021.
The Government wasn't looking at rent freezes at this stage, which was what occurred for last year's lockdown, but "we will continue to monitor where we end up".
He noted changes the Government had already made, including that only one rent rise can happen in 12 months.
Last year the Government also offered other support including a mortgage repayment holiday and extending the winter energy payment, but Robertson said "at the moment, we don't believe those things are necessary".
Asked about how Government policy contributed to booming house prices last year, Treasury chief executive Caralee McLiesh said prices had not fallen as much as Treasury had forecast in May, but they were still expected to slow over time.
McLiesh told the committee that more construction, low population growth, RMA reforms and tax changes would all contribute to growth in house prices "alleviating in coming months".
Robertson said there was a significant rebound in economic activity after last year's lockdown, which would likely happen again this time.
He noted Westpac predictions of a 6 per cent decline in GDP in the September quarter last year, followed by 9 per cent growth in the December quarter.
This showed demand was deferred until after lockdown, rather than disappearing altogether, he said.
"That's the experience we saw last time. It shows New Zealand businesses are relatively resilient and adaptable, more so now than pre-Covid."
Act leader David Seymour questioned Robertson about spending from the $62b Covid fund, including $4b on housing and $500m on school lunches, and asked whether further use of the fund might see less spending in other areas.
"What I'm not going to do is cut core services," Robertson said. "We will make sure the supports New Zealanders need are available."
Asked about commercial rent support, Robertson said the Resurgence Support Payments - which can be up to $21,500 - can be used for anything including fixed costs such as rent.
Many commercial leases also included the "unable to occupy" clause in the contract, but Robertson conceded that some didn't, and the Government could step in if level 4 continued for an "extended period".
"We will continue to look at our options in that regard."
Those options included legislating to suspend rental payments, or offering facilitation over disagreements - though Robertson stressed the Government wasn't leaning in any particular direction.
He urged businesses struggling with provisional tax or GST payments to contact the IRD, because the IRD had discretion around payments and penalties.
Earlier this morning, Robertson announced businesses could now apply for Resurgence Support Payments over the lockdown: a one-off payment to help with costs such as rent and fixed costs.
It will be available until all of New Zealand has been back in alert level 1 for at least a month.
It is available for businesses, organisations and self-employed who have at least a 30 per cent drop in revenue over a week as a result of the lockdown. It constitutes a base rate of $1500 per business plus $400 per employee – up to a maximum of $21,500.
The separate wage subsidy scheme also kicked into action soon after the first period of lockdown began last Tuesday for those expecting at least a 40 per cent revenue drop.
Both schemes were developed during last year's lockdowns.
However, yesterday Robertson told the Herald there were as yet no plans to re-start measures to help householders, such as through rent-rise freezes or mortgage payment deferral schemes.
Yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern argued that having ministers before select committees was a suitable alternative while Parliament was suspended, and would mean more ministers were fronting than if there was only one committee.
However, Collins and Act leader David Seymour have called for more, saying leaving it to select committees meant the Prime Minister herself could not be questioned.
Both Seymour and Collins were also concerned about the Government majority on the select committees, saying it meant Government MPs could take up a lot of time with patsy questions and easily block attempts to call other people before the committee.
Seymour has called for the re-convening of the special Epidemic Response Committee which was set up last year and chaired by then Opposition leader Simon Bridges as a substitute for Parliament.
However, Parliament has to meet to allow that committee to be re-established even if only in very limited numbers.