(ABC NEWS) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Wednesday that she, along with her cabinet ministers and public service chief executives, would take a 20% pay cut to show solidarity with those economically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“As we acknowledge New Zealanders who are reliant on wage subsidies, taking pay cuts, and losing their jobs as a result of Covid-19’s global pandemic, we feel acutely the struggle that many New Zealanders are feeling,” Ardern said in a press conference.
“While it won’t shift the government’s overall fiscal position, it is about leadership,” she added.
Although the pay cut will only last six months, the prime minister’s income will be reduced by nearly $30,000.
“If there ever was a time to close the gap between groups of people across New Zealand in different positions, it is now,” she said.
The prime minister said the pay cut would not apply to public sector workers like nurses, doctors and police officers.
Several international organizations have predicted that New Zealand could see significant coronavirus-related economic weakness, with the International Monetary Fund projecting that the country’s economy could contract by 7.2 percent.
The IMF’s World Economic Outlook forecasts that New Zealand’s economic downturn could be the worst outside Europe, except for Venezuela.
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, New Zealand has 1,386 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths.