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Govt's plan to redistribute nearly $1b unspent from Covid-19 fund is 'irresponsible' — National

National is calling today’s pre-Budget announcement “irresponsible”, after the Government revealed it would be redistributing nearly $1 billion that was unspent from the Covid-19 fund.

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Grant Robertson delivered his first pre-Budget speech this morning in the capital. Source: 1 NEWS

The party’s finance spokesperson Michael Woodhouse also said the newly established implementation unit — created to ensure the Government delivers on its promised policies – is instead an admission of failure.

“I think this is an admission that Cabinet has failed to deliver on things that it's promised. [The PM] wants to set up what Government should be doing every single day,” he said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s defended the implementation unit, describing it as good practice.

“We wanted to make sure that, given the complexity of some of those projects, that we did have extra support available through the form of that implementation unit,” she said.

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Budget 2021 to shuffle $1b of unspent Covid-19 funds, Finance Minister reveals

The new unit will report directly to Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson and will be funded in the 2021 Budget.

ACT Party leader David Seymour told 1 NEWS that the creation of the new unit is astonishing.

“The big news is the Government’s been announcing policies for four years and has had no one to implement them,” Seymour said.

Nearly $1 billion left over from the Covid-19 recovery fund will be redistributed in this year’s Budget, with the Government also announcing its priorities for the term being housing, climate change and child wellbeing.

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The Finance Minister gave his pre-Budget speech in Wellington this morning. Source: 1 NEWS

"Budget 2021 will be a recovery Budget," Robertson said.

"New Zealand’s economy continues to perform better than forecast, but we know that the impacts of Covid-19 are still being felt around the world." 

However, the National Party says the Government should be saving the money instead of spending it.

“I think his spending announcements are irresponsible. He had a Covid fund that they haven’t needed to spend and rather than not borrow that money, he’s committing nearly a billion dollars for other projects,” Woodhouse said.

More details will be announced on Budget Day, which is May 20.