WELLINGTON - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that she and other cabinet ministers will take a temporary 20% pay cut for six months as a gesture of solidarity during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“If there was ever a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now. I am responsible for the executive branch and this is where we can take action … it is about showing solidarity in New Zealand’s time of need,” said the New Zealand Labour Party leader in a speech on Wednesday (15/4).

The pay cut will reduce Ms Ardern’s annual salary of NZ$470,000 to NZ$423,945. Among other officials who have confirmed they will take a pay cut include Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, and Opposition Leader Simon Bridges from the National Party.

According to Ms Ardern, the pay cut will not in any way affect the government’s fiscal position. “This was always just going to be an acknowledgement of the hit that many New Zealanders will be taking at the moment,” she said.

As reported by The Guardian, New Zealand has been in lockdown for three weeks as over 1,300 people in the country have tested positive for COVID-19. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is projecting that the country’s economy will be contracted by 7.2% this year, the second-biggest economic slump outside Europe after Venezuela. (MS)