23 May 2024

Nicola Willis gives pre-budget speech to business leaders

3:17 pm on 23 May 2024

The government intends keeping a tight rein on spending in the future and maintaining an overall contractionary fiscal stance, the Finance Minister says.

Nicola Willis has spoken to the Employers and Manufacturers Association ahead of Budget 2024.

Bringing down high inflation and interest rates were among the government's priorities, Willis said.

Mentioning again the necessity of tax cuts, Willis said contrary to what her audience might have heard from some quarters, they would not require additional borrowing.

"Since tax relief will be fully paid for, it should actually - at the margin - take a bit of pressure off inflation, given that households may save some of their tax relief rather than spend it all.

"More importantly, we will be reining back spending in future years and maintaining an overall contractionary fiscal stance. Treasury has advised me that this means that interest rates could track lower than would otherwise be the case."

She said that lower interest rates would be important for every Kiwi with a mortgage and every business carrying debt.

"We will do our bit to support a lower interest-rate future."

She said all the economic pointers showed the country was experiencing "the hangover after the wild party".

"And, as everyone knows, the wilder the party, the longer and messier the hangover."

However, Kiwis had realistic expectations of what the government could do and did not expect it to wave "a magic wand".

"Instead, people are looking to us to show a clear, credible path out of this economic and fiscal mess. You are looking for a little relief today but most importantly you need that hope that tomorrow will be better. That's what our Budget will do."

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