New Zealand’s prime minister has said she and other ministers would take a 20% Pay cut lasting six months to show solidarity with those affected by the Corona Virus outbreak, as the death toll continues to rise. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern takes a $45,000 pay cut over the next six months as leading public sector bosses will have their salaries reduced by 20 percent.
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Ardern said the six-month, 20 percent pay cuts would apply to all 25 Government ministers and 34 Government department chief executives. The surprise announcement came as a further 20 New Zealanders were diagnosed with COVID-19 overnight. Ardern said the pay cut was an acknowledgment of the economic hit her country was taking as it grappled with the corona virus pandemic.
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Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, the director-general of health, has led the elimination response to the crisis, confirmed he would “definitely” take a pay cut too, as would opposition leader Simon Bridges. New Zealand has been in full lock down for three weeks, meaning no one is allowed to leave their homes except for necessities or a brief respite of fresh air.
More than 1,300 people have infected with the virus, and there have been nine deaths, all older people with pre-existing health conditions. The 34 Government department heads were paid an average $478,000 in the last financial year, and so would be in line for an average $47,800 reduction, resulting in about $1.6 million in savings. The PM, deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, and Ministers will take a cut of about $800,000 in total. The government expected to decide next week whether it will extend its current “Level 4” shutdown.
In a speech to New Zealand’s business community earlier in the day, the finance minister said that if the government decided to ease restrictions, the emphasis would be to permit safe economic activity.“There is an immediate need to survive these next few months,” Boucher said, adding she was unable to rule out redundancies. “There needs to be some ongoing government support for a commercial media industry in New Zealand.” A government rescue package for the media expected this week.