Govt books in good position to respond to coronavirus

The Crown accounts are in a strong position to weather any economic uncertainty as a result of coronavirus, with the books in surplus and expenses close to forecast, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says.

The Treasury today released the Crown accounts for the seven months to January.

The operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) is close to forecast with a surplus of $1.4 billion.

Core Crown Expenses were also close to forecast at $53 billion and net core Crown Debt was $0.4 billion lower than forecast at 19.5% of GDP.

“The positive state of the Government accounts means we are well placed to deal with whatever the economic impacts of coronavirus may be,” Grant Robertson says.

“The fundamentals of the economy are strong and our careful management has seen the economy continue to grow in the face of constant headwinds like international trade disputes and uncertainty over Brexit.

“This has been backed by international rating agency S&P affirming New Zealand’s credit ratings at AA for foreign currency and AA+ for domestic currency and describing the outlook as positive.

“S&P also noted that our economy is resilient and flexible, and that the coronavirus outbreak and slowing Chinese economy are unlikely to weigh on New Zealand's credit quality,” Grant Robertson says.

“The Government is carefully monitoring the impact of coronavirus on all sectors of New Zealand and we are preparing for multiple scenarios. We are ready to support our people and our businesses through any eventuality.

“We believe it is sensible and responsible to plan for every possible scenario, but that does not mean we are predicting them.

“We are also at a stage in the 2020 Budget process where we can consider the policies required if we need them,” Grant Robertson says.