The Labor Party leader, who was criticized before the October 2020 legislative elections, for being too cautious in implementing her reform program, announced numerous budget increases in terms of social benefits and social housing in particular.
“We will make sure that recovery does not leave anyone left behind,” she said.
“We want to kill two birds with one stone, and implement policies that ensure the sustainability of finances while building a stronger New Zealand for the future.”
Mme Ardern a notamment annoncé une hausse de 3,3 milliards de dollars néo-zélandais (1,9 milliard d’euros) des aides à la famille, la plus importante en plus de 20 ans, avec l’objectif de sortir 30,000 enfants de poverty.
Health will also receive a NZ $ 4.7 billion budget extension, while the Ministry of Transport and Education will also see increases in their budgets.
Ms Ardern reaffirmed that tackling global warming is a priority, with NZ $ 300 million available for low-carbon technologies and approximately NZ $ 350 million to renovate the Scott Antarctic base, which is an important source of data.
Greenpeace denounced from the start the inadequate measures that, according to the Environment Organization, fell short of the Labor leader’s rhetoric.
“It is very disappointing to see this government continue its very slow approach to dealing with a major and urgent crisis,” said Amanda Larson, a spokeswoman for the organization.
Ms Ardern, who was re-elected to the presidency last year due to her very effective handling of the pandemic, said it will take time to achieve the government’s goals.
“It is simply impossible, with one budget, to fulfill all of the promises that have been made, or to face all of the challenges in the long term,” she said.
The budget projects that public debt, which was 26.3% of GDP in 2020, will reach 48% by 2023.
“This is of course very high, given what New Zealanders are used to, but it is the correct answer to the situation,” said Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
The Treasury Department expects growth of 2.9% in the year ending in June, and expects it to reach 4.4% in 2023.
Opposition leader Judith Collins laments the budget that is deepening the country’s indebtedness and forgetting the middle classes and businesses.
“All New Zealanders are feeling the brunt of the crisis, not just the unemployed or those on the minimum wage,” she said. “So what is the plan for the country to return to prosperity?”