ANZ CEO 'a bit gutted' after Finance Minister says banks 'not meeting' needs of businesses

ANZ CEO Antonia Watson says she was "a bit gutted" to hear Finance Minister Grant Robertson's comments that banks were "not meeting their needs nor our expectations as a Government". 

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Antonia Watson says New Zealand “is really well set up in getting through” the economic crisis caused by Covid-19. Source: Q+A

"We've done a lot," Ms Watson told TVNZ1's Q+A with Jack Tame. 

On Friday, Mr Robertson announced the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme, saying that it had "become clear that the support that is available to our small and medium businesses from banks is not meeting their needs nor our expectations as a Government". 

The passing of the law was the result of an administration error, Interest reported

"That is why we have moved to provide this scheme to give some much needed cashflow," Mr Robertson said on Friday. 

Ms Watson said she was "a bit gutted", adding "we've touched nearly $10 billion of business lending... as an industry we've done over $6b of new lending to new businesses".

"The difficulty is you have to balance the need of the business with making sure you're actually lending responsibly."

Getting through the economic crisis of Covid-19 is "going to be hard... but we also started in a good position", she said. 

Ms Watson said ANZ economists thought Australia would experience 13 per cent impact on this quarter's GDP, where as their economists in New Zealand were saying there would be a 17 per cent hit here.

"So a little difference, I also think that New Zealand is really well set up in getting through it.. we're in a good position in an economy to perform," she said.

She said the worst move for the economy would be if "we stuff it up and we end up back in Level 4" as the hit would impact business confidence.  

On the possibility of a 15 per cent house price drop, Ms Watson said there were not many people who would be exposed to the impact - "they'll be the minority and we'll be here to help them through that". 

She said that extended to business owners too.