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$50bn rescue fund in 'once in a generation' budget

May 14, 2020 2:26 pm

A $50 billion rescue fund sits at the centre of 2020’s “once in a generation Budget” as the country braces for the economic carnage promised by Covid-19.

The plan lays out the first $15.9bn of investment including an extension of the wage subsidy scheme to the hardest hit businesses, free trades training, and a state house building programme.

Almost $14bn has already been allocated to previously-announced initiatives, leaving about $20bn unspent.

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The hefty price tag promises to blow out debt to 53.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2023 and will leave the country in deficit for years to come.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says the pandemic is a “one-in-one-hundred-year event” which demands record spending.

“It is a once in a generation Budget. It is bold because the task we face is monumental,” he says.

And Treasury’s forecasts show just how tough that task could be, with unemployment predicted to more than double, surging to a peak 9.8 percent by September this year.

“This is the rainy day we have been preparing for – now we must weather the global storm,” Robertson says.

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