FILE PHOTO: Chris Hipkins speaks to members of the media, after being confirmed as the only nomination to replace Jacinda Ardern as leader of the Labour Party, outside New Zealand’s parliament in Wellington, New Zealand January 21 2023. REUTERS/Lucy Craym
By Lucy Craymer
WELLINGTON (Reuters) – The New Zealand government is boosting financial support for around 1.4 million citizens as it tries to offset three-decade high inflation ahead of the country’s election later this year.
Inflation is running at a near three decade high of 7.2% and is increasingly becoming the key political issue ahead of the election in October, which polls indicate will be tightly contested.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement the government would boost benefits for pensioners, students, children and parents from next month.
“The package of bread and butter support we are announcing today will help people who are really feeling the bite from the rise in the cost of living,” said Hipkins.
Since taking over the leadership, Hipkins has said he is focused on basic issues, such as the cost of living crisis, and has shelved a number of projects, such as the merger of state-owned radio and television stations.
He added on Monday that a number of other projects were also being cut to help pay for benefit increases including a longer timetable for planned upgrades to public transport.
“I want New Zealanders to know the Government is doing its bit and is cutting its cloth to suit the times we are in,” Hipkins said.