Friday, December 2, 2016
| Kanwaljit Bakshi, National List MP
In the days since the initial severe earthquake struck, a number of communities have experienced ongoing aftershocks.
For those directly affected, this has brought concern for the well-being of loved ones, and distress for those experiencing damaged homes or businesses.
In situations like these, it is important people do know the rest of the country is behind them.
There have been heart-warming voluntary efforts to help from around the country, while the government is doing everything it takes to help communities to get back on their feet.
Affected communities, and indeed all New Zealanders, can be assured New Zealand is well placed to respond to challenges posed by the natural environment.
We have a strong, growing economy, and our public finances are very healthy thanks to the choices and decisions made by the National-led government over the years.
This was highlighted again last week when the British government announced UK net public debt would stand at 90.2 per cent of UK GDP in 2017/18.
That compares with our Treasury’s forecast for NZ net Crown debt to stand at 25 per cent at that time.
The UK government has abandoned its hope of returning to budget surplus in 2019/20, whereas our government has been running operating surpluses since 2014/15 and the New Zealand Treasury in May forecast is growing surpluses over its official forecast period to June 2020.
New Zealanders can have confidence National will support them when they are in need.
One of the first things the government announced, after the first major quake, was a wage subsidy package to help small businesses to sustain themselves and their staff, and this was followed by a primary sector support package.
Last week, we extended the wage subsidy to larger businesses in Kaikoura, Cheviot, Waiau, Rotherham, Mt Lyford and Ward that have experienced sudden, large and potentially sustained drops in their revenues, and the cabinet also approved tax measures to assist.
The Inland Revenue Department, for example, will waive use-of- money interest when a person is prevented from paying on time as a result of the recent earthquakes.
IRD has also cancelled late filing and late payment penalties for all affected taxpayers and announced discretions on income equalisation for farmers and fishers who are significantly affected by the earthquakes.
The government’s decisions are being guided by the practical feedback we receive on the ground from individuals, families and communities.