2 Oct 2020

Napier Port repays more than $2m in Covid-19 wage subsidy

10:37 am on 2 October 2020

Napier Port has repaid all of the Covid-19 wage subsidy it received from the government, saying it was the right thing to do.

Container ship in commercial port of Napier, New Zealand.

Photo: 123rf

The company has paid back more than $2 million of the wage subsidy it received.

Napier Port chief executive Todd Dawson told Morning Report improved confidence in the port's future led to the decision - and the subsidy itself helped create that confidence.

"The main decision factor was around where we see our year-end results landing for the financial year and that there was quite a period of uncertainty as Covid took effect during the lockdown and that's really why we've decided now to repay it full."

Dawson said repaying it was the right thing to do considering it had served its purpose.

"We see it as there to be able to support businesses during an uncertain time, to make sure we are able to maintain workforces and it certainly served its purpose in that regard."

It comes amid a spotlight on businesses who have collected the wage subsidy, only to later let go of staff and then post a profit.

During Wednesday night's leaders' debate, both National leader Judith Collins and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said it is morally wrong for businesses to collect the subsidy under these circumstances.

Collins said she was prepared to make a law change to get money back from companies that didn't need it.

On the other hand, Dawson said not all businesses would be able to follow suit.

"We can really only comment on our situation because every business faces different circumstances, so I think it's going to be a decision that the government of the day will end up making as to whether they're going to change the rules or laws around receiving the wage subsidy.

"We're just really happy that we can be in a position that we can return it to the government and I'm pleased the board resolved to repay the subsidy in full."