WELLINGTON, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The latest update on the government accounts shows New Zealand is in a solid position to meet global economic challenges and support Kiwis facing cost of living pressures, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said on Thursday.
For the five months to the end of November 2022, the Operating Balance before Gains and Losses recorded a deficit of 2.4 billion NZ dollars (1.56 billion U.S. dollars), 61 million NZ dollars (39.55 billion U.S. dollars) lower than forecast at the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update in December last year and 5.9 billion NZ dollars (3.82 billion U.S. dollars) lower than for the same period a year ago, statistics show.
"The government knows that the cost of living is top of mind for New Zealanders every time they visit the supermarket or pay their mortgage," Robertson said, adding significant support has been provided to households and businesses through the fuel excise duty cut and half-price public transport.
After the emergency COVID response, the Treasury is forecasting real government consumption will fall by 8.2 percent over the next couple of years, which they say indicates that fiscal policy is supporting monetary policy in dampening inflationary pressures.
New Zealand's net debt was 19.2 percent of GDP, which was below the forecast of 20.3 percent of GDP due to better-than-expected market conditions affecting the New Zealand Super Fund's financial portfolio, he said.
"These are tough times for many people. New Zealand is in a strong starting position to face the deteriorating global economy, with low unemployment, growing exports, a rebound in tourist numbers and more people arriving to live and work in New Zealand long term than leaving, helping ease worker shortages," Robertson said.
New Zealand's debt levels are among the lowest in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and well below the government's debt ceiling of 30 percent, which ensures the country is well positioned to weather further economic shocks, he said.