New Zealand PM takes paycut in symbolic coronavirus gesture

Ms Ardern said her pay cut was a small contribution to a nation facing high unemployment

*** BESTPIX *** WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 14: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern looks on during a press conference at Parliament on April 14, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. New Zealand has been in lockdown since Thursday 26 March following tough restrictions imposed by the government to stop the spread of COVID-19 across the country.  A State of National Emergency is in place along with an Epidemic Notice to help ensure the continuity of essential Government business. Under the COVID-19 Alert Level Four measures, all non-essential businesses are closed, including bars, restaurants, cinemas and playgrounds. Schools are closed and all indoor and outdoor events are banned. Essential services will remain open, including supermarkets and pharmacies. Lockdown measures are expected to remain in place for around four weeks, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warning there will be zero tolerance for people ignoring the restrictions, with police able to enforce them if required.  (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she will take a 20 per cent pay cut in a symbolic act of solidarity with people struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Ardern said her personal salary, those of her fellow ministers and of top public servants would be slashed by a fifth for six months.
The move will mean the prime minister's annual pay will fall from about NZ$470,000 (Dh1 million) to NZ$376,000 (Dh837,000).

"While it in itself won't shift the government's overall fiscal position, it is about leadership," she said.


"This was always just going to be an acknowledgement of the hit that many New Zealanders will be taking at the moment."

The centre-left leader said the cut would not be implemented across the public service.

"Many people in our public sector are frontline essential workers – nurses, police, healthcare professionals," Ms Ardern said.

"We are not suggesting pay cuts here, nor would New Zealanders find that appropriate."

New Zealand is in the middle of a four-week Covid-19 lockdown that has paralysed the economy, with thousands of jobs losses already announced.

Economic modelling released by the country's Treasury this week predicted unemployment, currently about four per cent, could soar to almost 26 per cent in a worst-case scenario.

Ms Ardern said her wage cut was a small contribution to easing pay inequalities in society.

"If ever there was a time to close the gap between different positions, it's now," she said.

"This is where we can take action which is why we have."