Key Points:

Prime Minister John Key, facing criticism for his Government being on holiday during the financial crisis, will meet his economic ministers on Thursday to discuss issues facing the country as a result of the global situation.

Mr Key said today he had called the meeting so ministers could be briefed, discuss the economic outlook and receive an update on future initiatives.

"The economy will be the dominant issue for the country in 2009," he said.

"The National-led government is on track with its action plan for the first 100 days, but we recognise more will need to be done to help address the challenges New Zealand faces."

The Herald today reported that the new Government is on holiday for 28 days of its first 100 days. Mr Key's Government had said the period was a crucial time for starting to implement its agenda.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark told the Herald last night that national was taking a "laissez-faire attitude" to the financial crisis.

Mr Key said the Government's aims included putting more money in people's pockets, better control of government spending and more productive use of public money.

Its strategy also involves building a stronger economy with more jobs by making businesses more productive and competitive.

Since National won the November election it has received grim reports from the Treasury about the impact the international economic slowdown is going to have on the economy.

In its latest update, issues on December 18, Treasury predicted massive increases in debt as the Government racks up unavoidable deficits.

Gross debt is set to almost double to 33 percent of GDP by 2012-2013 as unemployment rises to 6.4 percent.

Finance Minister Bill English said when the December update was released that he would have to deal with the situation in his first budget, expected in May, and he would not let debt and deficits spiral out of control.

Departmental heads have been ordered to examine their spending and not expect any "wish lists" to be met.

The ministers Mr Key has called to the Beehive for Thursday afternoon's meeting are Mr English, Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee, Justice, State-owned Enterprises and Commerce Minister Simon Power, Health and State Services Minister Tony Ryall and Transport and Communications Minister Steven Joyce.

The chief executives of the Treasury, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the State Services Commission will also attend.

- NZPA, NZ HERALD STAFF