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English tight-lipped on further budget details

But the prime minister did admit he was looking forward to “sitting down during the long budget speech for the first time in nine years.”

Jason Walls
Mon, 22 May 2017

Prime Minister Bill English is staying tight-lipped on any further details ahead of this week’s budget.

“Steven Joyce is doing the budget on Thursday, I’m not doing it on Monday,” the said when asked what to expect at his weekly post-cabinet press conference.

But he did take the time to again talk up the government’s accounts, saying it has “significant positive choices” as a result of eight years of hard work.

“You can expect that in Budget 2017 we will make reasonable use of this opportunity because we like to maintain the capacity for more such opportunities in the future,” Mr English says.

He took a dig at the last Helen Clark-led Labour government, saying the government was not planning on increasing spending by 50% over the five years to 2009 when it has a surplus, with no “decisive or discernible improvement in public services and no changes in people’s lives.”

Mr English says he’s actually looking forward to this week’s budget, as he will get to “sit down during the long budget speech for the first time in nine years.”

The government has already unveiled a range of new spending that will be included in Thursday’s budget.

But the multi-million dollar question on many people’s mind will be tax cuts.

When Finance Minister Steven Joyce revealed the date of the budget in early February, he said the government was “committed to reducing the tax burden on lower and middle-income earners when we have the room to do so.”

Since then, he has been downplaying the idea of tax cuts.  

He told the Otago Daily Times over the weekend the government would not want to overplay the idea of tax cuts.

“We're not going to be able to do a massive amount in any of these areas because we still only have a surplus of $1.5 billion as at end of March. You want to do what you can and the question is when you can.”

There is some Wellington speculation the government will invest more into initiatives around families.

Jason Walls
Mon, 22 May 2017
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English tight-lipped on further budget details
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