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Simon Bridges comes out swinging after Treasury officials a no-show for Covid-19 committee

Treasury is under fire for not turning up at today's Covid-19 select committee, where MPs across the House scrutinise the Government's response to the pandemic. 

Chair Simon Bridges said he was advised this morning Treasury Secretary Caralee McLiesh was unwell and Deputy Secretary Bryan Chapple was on leave. 

Ms McLiesh has appeared before the committee previously. 

"We've asked for other senior people within Treasury to come and address with us the issues with Budget and Covid-19. They've been notified of this since Friday and no one has been put in place," Mr Bridges said. 

"I think to just dismiss the committee is entirely unacceptable. We're in a situation where we're borrowing $140 billion. We have some remarkable forecasts from the Treasury which certain bank economists describe as highly optimistic.

"These are critical issues for our nation and deserve scrutiny and they're not going to get them today."

Economist Cameron Bagrie expressed his disappointment that Treasury had not fronted today. 

"I think it's unbelievable," he said. 

National finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith said there was 565 permanent staff at the Treasury and "not one person has been made available".

Last week, Treasury released stark figures at Budget 2020, with net core Crown debt expected to rise to 53.6 per cent in 2023 and 2024.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Ms McLiesh offered to appear later in the week.

"That’s important to point out: We have given very strong advice when people are sick they should stay home. I would expect everyone regardless of position to uphold that guidance."

A spokesperson Treasury told 1 NEWS the Treasury was unable to attend "due to the people with executive responsibility for the Budget being unavailable". 

"The Secretary of the Treasury, Caralee McLiesh, is unwell, and Struan Little, Deputy Secretary for the Budget, is on leave this week.

"We contacted the committee clerk early this morning to advise that we were unable to attend and have been working with the clerk to find an alternative time later in the week to appear before the committee.  We have also offered to provide written answers to questions they may have in the meantime.

The Treasury will also appear in front of Finance and Expenditure Committee in June for the usual post-Budget review."

Mr Bridges said he was hopeful they would appear tomorrow.