This year’s Budget is a zero Budget. The Minister of Finance, Bill English, said there is no more money. To find money for new programmes, it has to come from present programmes. For example, to find money for more teacher training, it has to come from bigger class sizes. More money for cancer treatment will come from an increase in prescription charges for medicines – from $3 to $5 each, with a maximum of 20 items per year.
Most of the changes, however, are small. There will be no extra money for early childhood care so parents may have to pay more in the future. Young people who have a part-time job after school will have to pay tax. Many teenagers work in supermarkets or deliver newspapers. The price of cigarettes will increase for the next four years to $20 or more for a packet of 20 cigarettes.
Mr English says it is a budget for difficult times. New Zealand is a trading country and we are affected by economic problems in other parts of the world. However, Mr English hopes that NZ will no longer have a debt in two years time. He hopes there will be a surplus – more money coming in than going out.
Mr Shearer, the leader of the Labour Party, says that this budget will not stop New Zealanders leaving the country to live overseas.
Note: debt has a silent ‘b’. The pronunciation is ‘det’.
New Zealand’s major trading countries are: Australia, China, USA and Japan. Will the global economic problems affect our trade with these countries?