Budget 2021: Doubt there will be any major announcements as Government manages $105 billion of debt

There's doubt there will be many major announcements in the Budget on Thursday due to the Government's level of debt.

The latest update from Treasury shows it has more than $105 billion of debt - up almost 20 percent on February last year.

Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen told Newshub there might not be as much spending as many groups are hoping for. 

"There's high hopes with the 2021 Government Budget with a lot more money available to Finance Minister Grant Robertson to spend. [But] whether or not he will spend that, and where that money might head towards are the open questions. 

"There's expectations around more spending needed around housing, for the likes of climate change, and of course the COVID response, but also to make sure low-income Kiwi families are supported with the high costs of living starting to bite household budgets around the country."

Newshub understands benefits are likely to be given a boost on Thursday but the Finance Minister is remaining tight-lipped for now. 

Olsen said while there is more money available to the Government, there are also just as many areas desperate for money. He said the high level of debt is likely to stop the Government from splashing too much cash. 

"The Government is being very reluctant to take on any debt, [it's] wanting to make sure that it is balancing the need to keep the New Zealand economy going with keeping that debt pile as low as it feasibly can."

He said this year's Budget is likely to be less exciting than 2020 because a number of the big-ticket items have already been announced. 

"Some of the big-ticket items have already been rolled out [such as] $1.4 billion for vaccines, other money already in the housing announcement back in March, so there's the potential for not a huge amount more to be made in this Budget, a bit of a consolidation Budget."

Olsen said the Government will be trying to rebuild its "rainy day fund" while also making sure all the critical areas are covered. 

"There are a number of critical issues across Aotearoa that do need to be addressed so there is still a big spending wish list from almost every Government minister and every Kiwi across the country." 

But he said the Government probably still has "a few cards" up its sleeve.

Watch the Newshub Nation Budget Special from 2pm on Three or at Newshub.co.nz for full details of today’s Budget announcement.