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Finance Minister: NZ won't run out of money amid unprecedented spending on coronavirus relief

Finance Minister Grant Robertson admits there will be some "interesting times" ahead of New Zealand, money-wise, once the threat of the coronavirus pandemic cools off - with the Government willing to go further into debt to keep Kiwis' financials afloat.

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Grant Robertson said they've already spent approximately up to $22 billion in relief for New Zealanders so far. Source: Breakfast

Mr Robertson told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning the Government has spent approximately $22 billion on the country's coronavirus relief efforts to date but the spending was necessary "to keep New Zealanders healthy, to keep incomes coming in and to support us all through what is something we have never experienced before".

Despite the large amount of spending, Mr Robertson was confident the Government wouldn't run out of money.

"We've worked hard over the last couple of years to make sure that we have kept those debt levels down, which enables us to use our balance sheet to be able to do this," Mr Robertson said.

"It's going to be a much higher level of debt at the end but it's all about making sure New Zealanders are healthy and safe and we can keep people in work.

"At the other end, it's going to be interesting times for us as we manage our way through it, but for now the priority is people and we'll just continue to keep an eye on the money but spend it as we need to."

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The health sector will also get a $500m boost for extra staff, more virus testing, medicines and intensive care beds. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Robertson added he's confident New Zealand can pay the loaned money back when it needs to after the coronavirus pandemic is over.

"New Zealand is like a good customer in the world," Mr Robertson explained.

"What the Government does is we issue what we call government bonds into the market and people around the world buy those up.

"We're regarded as, effectively, a good credit risk so we're in a good, strong position to keep borrowing. One day we have to think about when we pay this back but that's in the future now."

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Grant Robertson also announced a business guarantee scheme. Source: 1 NEWS

One of the latest moves by the Government to ease financial strains on Kiwis was the announcement yesterday of a six-month mortgage holiday scheme, meaning New Zealanders won't have to pay their mortgage until at least September later this year.

However, a minor detail that some Kiwis may have overlooked was the fact that interest on those frozen mortgages will still be accruing, meaning there'll be more to pay back in the long run.

But Mr Robertson told Breakfast that was a small sacrifice for a larger cause.

"It's a relief measure," Mr Robertson said.

"It's a measure I think that is really important just to take pressure off people if they've had a reduction in income or they've lost their job - they know that for this period of time now they're not going to lose their home and I think that is really significant and important for people."

Mr Robertson added the mortgage holiday was a discussion with banks rather than him enforcing protocols.

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It’s part of the Government’s $12.1 billion Covid-19 relief package. Source: 1 NEWS

"We're working together on this. It's been an interesting set of discussions on this but the banks have come to the party in this regard."

Each bank will decide their own interest rates on loans for small businesses, Mr Robertson added, but he said the Government has more plans up its sleeve to ease the burden on Kiwis, with the welfare sector named as an area of potential focus.

"There is no playbook so we just have to keep going forwards.

"We'll make the odd mistake here or there but people need to know that we've got their health and wellbeing at heart here."