Prime Minister Chris Hipkins rules out cutting GST from fresh food

Chris Hipkins has ruled out cutting GST from fresh food as New Zealand continues grappling with a cost of living crisis.

Speaking with AM on Tuesday, the Prime Minister said such relief wasn't an option in the short term.

"It would be quite a complex change so even if [the] Government was going to go down that road, it's likely to take some time to implement because all of the systems and so on would need to change," he told host Ryan Bridge. "It's not something that's on our short-term work programme at the moment.

"Don't expect to see anything in that space between now and the election."

Hipkins' comments were in response to questions from Bridge, who pointed to emails from AM viewers calling for the change.

The Māori Party has long-called for the change to remove GST from healthy food.

But despite those calls, Hipkins said it wasn't something the Government was working on.

It comes after figures released on Monday showed food prices were 12.1 percent higher than this time last year, largely driven by grocery costs. 

In addition, economists have said New Zealand's annual consumer inflation would likely remain at 7 percent or above in figures to be announced later this week.

The Prime Minister acknowledged Government spending had contributed to high inflation but said the biggest contributor to that was the COVID-19 wage subsidy, "which kept people in work" at the height of the pandemic.

"It also meant that businesses didn't end up going to the wall so I'm certainly not going to apologise for that," Hipkins said.

"I've not heard anybody argue that the Government shouldn't have provided the wage subsidy over the last couple of years when businesses needed it, and when people needed that income security."

Labour has yet to reveal its tax plans ahead of October's election.