She announced, "If there were ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now."
The ongoing global health crisis has been called the "great equalizer." After all, if Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson can contract the disease just as easily as one of us, then it displays just how fragile we all are, collectively. However, this assertion isn't fully correct. If anything, the outbreak has shown us just how deeply flawed our social structures are. Those with wealth and influence can easily get tested and have the resources to overcome the disease if they catch it, while the poor are left to fend for themselves or wait for government assistance. In light of this, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern announced that she and her fellow lawmakers will be taking a 20 percent pay cut, CNBC reports. This is expected to narrow the wide gaps in the country's income distribution.
Ardern made the announcement during one of her daily briefings. "We acknowledge New Zealanders who are reliant on wage subsidies, taking pay cuts, and losing their jobs as a result of the global pandemic," she stated. "Today, I can confirm that myself and government ministers and public service chief executives will take a 20 percent pay cut for the next six months." As per New Zealand’s Remuneration Authority, the Prime Minister currently earns an annual income of $471,049 New Zealand dollars, which is roughly $281,047 US dollars. She will thus take a pay cut of $47,105 New Zealand dollars, or just under $30,000 US dollars.
While the New Zealand government has already paid out $9 billion New Zealand dollars to 1.5 million citizens in wage subsidies, the pay cuts are not expected to affect the government's proposed fiscal policy response to the ongoing outbreak. Rather, the cuts are representative of the leadership the present cabinet has taken. Nonetheless, Prime Minister Ardern also recognized the role such a move would have on developing a more equitable level of income distribution across the country. She added, "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 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces she and other ministers will take a 20% pay cut for six months to show solidarity with those affected by the #coronavirus outbreak pic.twitter.com/Y5zjee19kp— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) April 16, 2020
Prime Minister Ardern and the rest of the New Zealand cabinet are not the only world leaders to take on such a move. In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the country’s other Members of Parliament all committed to accepting a 30 percent cut in their salaries for an entire year. Similarly, Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika and his government ministers have agreed to a 10 percent pay cut for the next three months. In the United States, President Donald Trump's administration shows no signs of following in these leaders' footsteps.
🇲🇼 Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika and other @MalawiGovt ministers will take a 10% pay cut to raise money to fight the #coronavirus outbreak #Covid_19 #CoronavirusPandemic pic.twitter.com/NP9uW8F3ao— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) April 6, 2020
Meanwhile, New Zealand is only halfway through the country's proposed lockdown, with no indication that it will be suspended prematurely. However, Prime Minister Ardern remains positive that her citizens will work together to overcome the ongoing public health crisis. "In the face of the greatest threat to human health we have seen in over a century, Kiwis have quietly and collectively implemented a nationwide wall of defense," she affirmed. "You made the decision that together, we could protect one other. And you have. You have saved lives. But as I've said, this is going to be a marathon."