Key defends KiwiSaver changes against S&P criticism

Prime Minister John Key has dismissed comments from Standard & Poor’s analyst Kyran Curry that changes to KiwiSaver will increase national debt levels.

Speaking to Radio New Zealand, Curry said that while Government spending did need to be brought under control it should not be at the expense of household savings.

His comments came after Key delivered a pre-Budget speech last week signalling cuts to the KiwiSaver Members Tax Credit.

“I mean Kyran Curry is a bright boy so I’m sure he can work out that if the Government actually stops to save and the private sector starts saving that increases national savings,” Key said.

He said the government intended to get savers making larger contributions themselves.

Finance Minister Bill English also defended plans to change KiwiSaver.

“The fact is KiwiSaver was put together at a time when the Government had very large surpluses, now it doesn’t have large surpluses,” he said.

“New Zealanders have realised that too much debt is not a good thing. That more savings gives them a greater sense of security. KiwiSaver is one vehicle for that.”

Labour leader Phil Goff said he was concerned the ratings agency had apparently voiced doubts over the changes.

“I’m really worried when Standard & Poor’s comes out this morning and says that the changes to KiwiSaver will discourage savings, we’re trying to do the opposite.”

“What KiwiSavers out there feel is that the contract with them has been broken, and it’s been broken unilaterally by Government alone, and that discourages confidence among potential KiwiSavers,” he said.

“Why would they go into a scheme if the government changed its mind every second day and changed the conditions in a scheme that they will effectively be locked into?”