'A $50 billion slush fund': Budget 2020 is 'very lazy', lacks plan to grow the economy - National finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith

The National Party's finance spokesperson has condemned the Government's 2020 Budget as "very lazy", labelling it a "$50 billion slush fund" that lacks any detailed plan to drive economic growth.

The 'Rebuilding Together' Budget released on Thursday afternoon counts an extension to the wage subsidy, free trades training and an infrastructure boost among its schemes to get the economy moving again following the COVID-19 outbreak.

But Paul Goldsmith says he's "very disappointed" by it - and believes the decision to delay allocating as much as $20 billion of it allows the Government to "splurge when it suits them in the months leading up to an election".

"It's a real economic challenge for the country," he told Newshub Nation's Simon Shepherd.

"What we were hoping to see was a plan out of there - and I'm frankly very disappointed that the only thing we've really got in this Budget is a $50 billion slush fund.

"We want to see a plan to get out. The priority is to save jobs… but there's nothing to help small businesses with their rent and other issues that they're struggling with."

Goldsmith gave the Government "a little tick" for extending wage subsidies - an idea he admitted would be of help to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) still struggling under the burdens of coronavirus - but said projects in the Budget to grow the economy were in short supply.

He believes the Government should have focused on direct cash support for businesses, large-scale incentives for businesses to get ahead and on getting international students back in New Zealand before the start of the second semester.

"There's very little in this Budget that I can see," he said.

"There's a little bit around entrepreneurship and some money for apprenticeships - that's fine - but where's the driver of growth over this next few years, given all the money that's being spent?

"Obviously we hope we can get through this period with less debt, but that's going to require an economy that's growing quickly."

Goldsmith said growth was the focus for the National Government during the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes - which, with "sound economic management", was an approach that worked to get the country "back on track" without the need for tax increases.

He says that should also be the current Government's focus now, especially given the scale of the disaster is even greater now than in those crises.

"When we look at all the projects in this Budget, the biggest thing by a country mile is just this big fund with no detail," he said.

"They're going to splurge when it suits them in the months leading up to an election. That, to me, seems a very lazy way of going about things."

Much of Budget 2020 is yet to be allocated. Some has already been spent - $15 billion - and $20 billion is left to roll out. 

Treasury forecasts up to 140,000 jobs could be saved over the next two years thanks to the fiscal stimulus, with unemployment to return to 4.2 percent by 2022.