From the Prime Minister
Our economy has come through the COVID-19 shock better than almost anywhere else in the world. We have record-low unemployment, economic activity is higher than it was before COVID-19, and we have lower debt than most countries we compare ourselves to. But, as the pandemic subsides, other challenges - both long term and more immediate - come to the fore.
Budget 2022 takes the opportunity to make investments that secure our future, on the strength of that economic recovery, while also responding to the cost-of-living pressures the whole world currently faces.
The plan this year is to do two things. First, ensure Aotearoa New Zealand's economic and social security for generations to come, by investing in the infrastructure that will build a better country for everyone while making us less vulnerable to external shocks. Budget 2022 makes our largest-ever investment in the health system that takes care of all of us and provides a blanket of security against future COVID-19 variants. It makes the greatest strides in climate action by any Government to date and continues the work of the past four years to lift more children from poverty, build more houses, encourage education and upskilling, and deliver higher-wage jobs that drive up productivity.
And second, Budget 2022 will cushion the impact of the inflation cycle on families. While we know the current storm will pass, it is important we take the hard edges off, and the special cost-of-living package contained within the Budget aims to do just that.
In last year's Budget, we secured our recovery through a strong COVID-19 health response that has delivered one of the strongest economies in the world, with GDP up 5.6 per cent in the past year, exports at record highs and more people employed than ever before.
Despite the pandemic causing a bigger economic shock than the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), our response means Aotearoa New Zealand is recovering more quickly than we did after the GFC.
It also means we can pay down the debt we took on to support lives and livelihoods more quickly than after the GFC, and we are on track to do so. This strong fiscal position means we can make the investments we need, while continuing to keep a lid on debt.
But what is important to do in challenging times is to prepare for the future. We need to invest now to make sure we are ready for what lies ahead, so we are secure when it arrives. Be it the impact of climate change or growing pressure on health services, now is not the time to take our eye off the ball.
Ultimately, Budget 2022 is about securing our future. In hard times and good, the Government has shown we will support New Zealanders through, while ensuring a more prosperous Aotearoa New Zealand for everyone.
RT HON JACINDA ARDERN
Prime Minister of New Zealand