Coronavirus: Finance Minister says 4.5 billion has been paid for assisting businesses

coronavirus 02/04/2020

Peter Williams is joined by Grant Roberston, Finance Minister to discuss the current business scheme and why there was more money announced for the Maori population.

He begins by asking Robertston how much money has been paid out in the current scheme for assisting businesses that have a downturn of more than 30 percent.

Robertson explains they hit the “4.5 billion mark yesterday,” with “just over 200,000 aplications processed.”

When asked whether he has extra staff working for the website and at the call centres to service the public, Robertson assures “absolutely”, and they are assisted by other government agencies too.

People will have to be patient

Peter asks whether the scheme for those with more than $80 million in revenue, with bank loans guaranteed, runs the risk that if companies can’t repay those loans, they'll be partly owned by the government?

“This is for businesses up to $80 million, not over $80 million,” Robertson corrects.

Most banks operate a watch list, Robertson explains, and they won’t give a loan to a company if they are risky.

The banks are more confident to lend to businesses that are doing well.

Peter wonders whether the government will take on some equity inside a company if the business can't pay the money back at the end, to which Roberston replies “the banks will operate normal processes if people can't pay back loans.”

“The loans are over three years,” Roberston reminds him.

When asked whether there has been any consideration given to cutting public sector pay in non essential areas, Robertson assures him “we are well aware a lot of businesses are taking pay cuts.”

Peter finishes by asking him why was there more money announced for Maori, when the number of Maori Covid-19 cases are very low.

Listen to the full interview above.