New Zealand lawmakers including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will take a 20 percent pay cut for six months in a show of solidarity with those who lost their jobs or are reliant on wage subsidies due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ardern said Wednesday.
Speaking at a daily coronavirus briefing in Wellington, Ardern acknowledged the decision would not improve the government’s overall fiscal position but said it was “about leadership.”
“We acknowledge New Zealanders who are reliant on wage subsidies, taking pay cuts and losing their jobs as a result of COVID-19’s global pandemic,” she said.
“We feel acutely the struggle that many New Zealanders are facing, and so too do the people I work with on a daily basis.”
The prime minister clarified that the pay cut, which extends to the leader of the opposition and public service chief executives, would not be applied to other members of the public services such as frontline medical staff.
“If there were ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now.”
New Zealand has confirmed 1,366 positive cases of COVID-19 and recorded nine deaths.
The country began a four-week-long lockdown at the end of March. Modeling released by the treasury department on Tuesday showed that without additional government support, unemployment could reach over 13 percent if the lockdown were lifted on schedule.
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