Keep debt in check, English says

Deputy prime minister and finance minister Bill English said Southlanders should not borrow a lot...
Deputy prime minister and finance minister Bill English said Southlanders should not borrow a lot of money but should pay off debt instead. Photo by Mandy Bean.
Don't stop spending but make paying off debt a priority, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Bill English says.

Mr English, who is also the Minister for Infrastructure, made the comments to The Ensign on Friday after he spoke at the annual meeting of the National Party's Gore branch.

It was evident in September that the world was headed for some financial fallout when the United States' financial markets began to crash, Mr English said.

While the National Party was aware of the global recession and its expected implications for New Zealand, Mr English said it seemed the financial fallout might bite deeper than originally expected.

When it came to National's policy-making process, Mr English said the party was ‘‘very careful'' to make sure the country could afford the promises it made.

‘‘There were quite a number of things which were suggested that we didn't do because they wouldn't have been affordable. We focused on the longer term and lowering taxes,'' Mr English said.

When asked what Eastern Southlanders could do to mitigate the effects of the economic recession, Mr English said people ‘‘shouldn't go out and borrow a lot of money''.

He advised people to pay off debt and said the present economic climate would not last for ever. ‘‘Have confidence we will come through this; don't change your [spending] habits too much,'' he said.

He described Eastern Southlanders as resilient.

New Zealand's economic recovery would be led by the rural sector even though forecasted dairy payouts had dropped drastically and the European Union had introduced export subsidies for dairy products, he said.

The lowered exchange rate and the world's need for food would create a favourable climate for this country's rural producers, he said.

‘‘And as the world prices start rising again we will get out of the recession. It will not be a consumer-led recovery but rather an export-led [recovery].''

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