Sam Sachdeva at Newsroom writes:
On the one hand, Jacinda Ardern’s announcement of greater quarantine powers, to cover not just people but ships and planes, fits with what has largely been regarded as a sound public health approach within New Zealand to the potential pandemic.
But on the less tangible yet also important issue of the financial fallout, there were nearly as many questions as answers.
Speaking alongside Ardern, Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced a “business continuity package” to support the economy, including a targeted wage subsidy scheme along with training and redeployment options.
But there was little detail on offer. “Policy options” around tax and household support were still being sketched out by officials, Robertson said, while the scale and scope of the package was also a work in progress.
Basically they didn’t announce a package of measures. They announced there would be a package, but not what it would be.
Businesses which are having their income plummet by the day need more than good intentions. They need details so they can make decisions about whether they can stay afloat and how many staff they can retain.
But it was a surprise not to have greater specificity about what would be done, given the impact of coronavirus is well and truly being felt already among a number of New Zealand businesses.
The decision to take a targeted approach to support for employers and employees also raises some obvious questions.
How will the Government ensure it captures all the industries and businesses being affected by the outbreak, and would it be easier (if more expensive) to develop some universal stimulus initiatives?
The problem with restricting it to certain industries is what happens in one industry affects another.