Economy – Longer-term funding to support business lending – Reserve Bank of New Zealand

Source: Reserve Bank of New Zealand – 02 April 2020

The Reserve Bank is introducing a Term Lending Facility (TLF), a new longer-term funding scheme for the banking system, in support of the Government's Business Finance Guarantee Scheme to help promote lending to businesses.
 
The TLF is similar to the recently announced, Term Auction Facility (TAF), and both provide liquidity to the banking system. The TLF aims to complement the Government's Business Finance Guarantee Scheme, announced last week, by ensuring access to funding for banks at low interest rates for up to 3 years duration, which is longer than the Bank's other liquidity facilities.
 
"We are working in-step with the Government and the country's banks to provide the economic support that is crucially needed during this uncertain time," Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr says.
 
"New Zealand's financial system remains sound, with strong capital and liquidity buffers. We are confident that the financial system is well placed to respond to the impacts of coronavirus."
 
"The facility is designed to support bank lending under the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme," Assistant Governor and General Manager of Economics, Financial Markets and Banking Christian Hawkesby says.
 
"We are currently engaging with banks on the operational details of the scheme, with the intention of launching our first TLF operation in May."
 
As previously announced, the Reserve Bank's Monetary Policy Committee has worked to mitigate the severe economic effects of COVID-19 by reducing the Official Cash Rate and implementing a Large Scale Asset Purchase programme.  In addition, the Reserve Bank has deferred the start of increased capital requirements and is delaying planned regulatory initiatives, to allow banks to focus on lending to their clients during the disruption of COVID-19.
 
"To further support the stability of the financial system during this period of economic uncertainty, we have agreed with the banks that during this period there will be no payment of dividends on ordinary shares, and that they should not redeem non-CET1 capital instruments," Deputy Governor and General Manager for Financial Stability Geoff Bascand says.
 
The restrictions take effect from today under revised Conditions of Registration issued to all locally-incorporated banks. They will remain in place until further notice, with the aim of relaxing them when the economic outlook has sufficiently recovered.
 
 "This initiative further supports the stability of the financial system by maintaining higher levels of capital during the period of falling economic activity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic," Mr Bascand says.
 
More information:

Notes:

  • The Term Lending Facility (TLF) will offer loans for a term of three years to ensure a stable source of funding that aligns with the Government's Business Finance Guarantee Scheme lending profile.
  • The TLF will be priced at a margin over the OCR, with similar collateral eligibility and haircuts to our existing OMO and TAF operations.
  • The Reserve Bank's Term Lending Facility programme will link access to funds to banks' lending under the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme..

Lockdown – Greater support needed from local Government for Canterbury businesses – Chamber of Commerce

Source: Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce
Increased support from local Government is needed during the current climate, says Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson.
Ms Watson says the current operating environment calls for a step-change from the status quo.
"While there may be temptation to try to ride this out as business as usual, the reality is that it’s not – and won’t be for some time, if ever. While Canterbury businesses are incredibly resilient after facing adversity before, they are also facing a very unsettling time, with a very uncertain future. We would like to see our local council acknowledge this and lead the way in reducing barriers – including financial burdens such as rates relief – to enable businesses to survive, revive and thrive in the new normal."
Ms Watson says there is a need for Council to re-examine their current Annual Plan.
"It is positive that the Council has announced an extension for the consultation period, but what we really need is for a complete review of that plan from the ground up. There is an opportunity here for local government to show strong leadership as an enabler of business when we need it most.
"Given the disproportionate level of rates that businesses pay and the very real issues many businesses are facing in lockdown, many with absolutely no ability to bring any income during the lockdown, we have asked the Council to consider a rates postponement for business with the opportunity to pay back over a extended period of time.
"We have heard from many businesses who are desperately trying to retain and pay staff, without any revenue coming in due to not being able to operate, so these businesses need to be thrown a lifeline.
"As an Employers’ Chamber, we remain committed to working in collaboration with local government and being a conduit for two-way engagement with the local business community, so will continue to work closely with the Council to support local business and the livelihoods of our local community."

Lockdown – Call to restrict sale of plumbing products during lockdown

Source: NZ Plumber
Master Plumbers are disappointed some plumbing merchants’ stores have remained open to walk-in customers during New Zealand’s COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown.
Not only does this encourage people to leave their homes, breaking their bubble unnecessarily and increasing the possibility of spreading the virus, but it also encourages non-essential work.
Plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers are essential services permitted to undertake a limited amount of work at this time.
The definition of an essential service is that the work is required because of an immediate threat to the health and safety of the occupants in a house or building.
Examples include repair or replacement of hot water cylinders, of broken pipes carrying water or waste, clearing blocked waste pipes, major water leaks and any gas leaks.
Anything non-urgent (repair of minor leaks, replacement to tap washers, routine servicing, upgrade of any fixtures currently working) must wait until lockdown ends.
Suppliers have always had Trade Only emergency call out procedures in place. Should a plumbing-related emergency occur outside normal trading hours, a call is placed to the store manager who arranges the supply of necessary products as soon as possible, meeting the tradesperson at the door.
"By not following call out procedures for essential services, some merchants are facilitating non-essential work. It encourages people to leave their homes, go into stores and purchase products. Our members are quite rightly turning down requests for non-essential work. We know that some customers are finding other plumbers prepared to breach the government guidance and do minor jobs for them that could wait until lockdown ends," says Greg Wallace, Master Plumbers chief executive.
"We are also hearing reports that some people, having been turned down by plumbers, are attempting to carry out work themselves. Our members are now dealing with urgent calls as a result of DIY, including water and gas leaks. Almost all aspects of plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying work are restricted and illegal to DIY – to keep everyone safe."
"Master Plumbers would like to see the sale of plumbing products restricted to Trade Only through call out procedures during the lockdown," he concludes.
About Master Plumbers:
Master Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers NZ Inc (Master Plumbers) is the national membership organisation for plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying businesses, with 18 regional Associations and Branches across New Zealand. Companies go through a Quality Assurance programme in order to become a member. We provide members with a wide range of resources and training opportunities to support them in staying up with the latest technologies, products and compliance requirements. We advocate on behalf of our members and our industry.

Lockdown – ASB strengthens support measures to help more businesses

Source: ASB

ASB has further increased its range of support measures for Kiwi business customers impacted by the economic effects of Coronavirus (COVID-19), by participating in the Government's Business Finance Guarantee Scheme.

ASB's eligible business customers will have access to new lending, which complements and builds on ASB's current COVID-19 business package. These business measures are in addition to the mortgage repayment deferrals announced last week.

The Government’s Business Finance Guarantee Scheme applies to business customers with an annual turnover of between $250,000 and $80 million. Each qualifying customer will be able to access new lending of up to a maximum of $500,000 either as a three-year term loan or a three-year revolving loan facility.  The Scheme does not apply to Agriculture or Property Development and Property Investment but does apply to Horticulture, Viticulture, Aquaculture and services to Agriculture.

ASB Chief Executive Vittoria Shortt says the financial stability of ASB business customers is top of mind for the Bank, and she’s confident expanding ASB’s suite of support will help them deal with the impact COVID-19 is having on their businesses.

“Businesses, no matter the size, are doing it tough. Our business customers are anxious for themselves, their families and for their staff. We recognise the urgent need for assistance, so they can focus on what matters most to them. This is about doing right by our customers and delivering immediate financial reassurance for New Zealanders.

“Doing right by our customers involves having genuine and honest conversations. We are working hard to help Kiwis get through, but the reality is for some businesses, increasing levels of debt might not be the best option for them long term. There will be some tough conversations ahead but that is our job as responsible lenders,” says Ms Shortt.

ASB expects the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme will enable it to lend close to $1 billion to eligible customers, in addition to the measures ASB has already announced.

“We have been supporting Kiwis for more than 170 years, and this won’t change. We have a range of support options available covering three areas: Access, Relief and Assistance to ensure we’re tailoring solutions that will best meet our customers’ financial needs now and in the future,” says Ms Shortt.

More information can be found at asb.co.nz/covid-19

Security – Police Association News goes digital this month

Source: NZ Police Association
The April edition of the Police Association’s monthly magazine Police News is published in digital form only.
This is due to the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions which prevent the printing and distribution of non-essential media.
The magazine can be accessed on the association’s website as a PDF, and individual articles are also be available at the links below.
The requirement for digital-only is likely to extend to the May edition given the expected duration of the lockdown.

Justice Sector – UPDATE- SITTINGS DURING THE ALERT LEVEL 4 PERIOD – Chief Justice Statement

Source: Chief Justice of New Zealand

The District Court continues to operate during the Alert Level 4 period to deal with priority proceedings as the need arises. For this purpose, there will be District Court Judges and Ministry of Justice staff available.

The Chief District Court Judge confirms that all defendants who are in custody will appear before a Judge for all scheduled appearances during the Alert 4 period. Whenever possible the appearance will be by AVL. Until further notice, no witnesses for Judge Alone Trials or Pre-trial Applications are required to attend Court in person to give evidence. Instead, a call-over will be conducted.

The Chief District Court Judge has determined that applications made under the Returning Offenders (Management and Information) Act 2015 will be treated as priority proceedings.

All court participants in the District Court are permitted to wear Personal Protective Equipment while appearing in court either in person or remotely, such as gloves and facemasks.

Priority Proceedings

Selection of priority proceedings are guided by these over-arching principles:

• Liberty of the individual;
• Protection of the at-risk or vulnerable, including children;
• The national and community safety interest;
• Facilitating and promoting public order.

Accredited news media will continue to have access to the court in order to report court proceedings, to ensure continued open and transparent justice.

In all priority proceedings, participation by counsel will be conducted remotely to the extent that is possible. All counsel are permitted to appear by AVL or telephone. If AVL facilities or telephone links are not available for counsel, the Duty Solicitor (or Duty Youth Advocate or Assigned Youth Advocate in Youth Court) must attend in person.

If facilities for the defendant to appear by AVL are not available, the defendant will appear in person.

In the Family Court, counsel are to appear by telephone or AVL, and if facilities are not available, in person.

In civil cases, counsel can appear by telephone.

In addition, a number of courtrooms now have a Virtual Meeting Room facility for all counsel, court participants, and accredited media to participate in priority proceedings by AVL from their homes or offices. A Judge and Registrar will be in the courtroom but counsel are encouraged to appear by AVL whenever feasible. Registries will advise when these VMR facilities are available.

Priority proceedings during Alert Level 4 will include:

Family

Those with statutory timeframes such as applications for Compulsory Treatment Orders, IDCCR, Protection Orders or interim custody/care and protection orders; those involving vulnerable parties such as welfare guardianship or property orders.

Under the Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act; those arising out of social dysfunction and family harm.

Where a hearing is directed, in almost all cases conferences and hearings will be conducted remotely.

Criminal

All those involving defendants who are in custody and due to appear during the Alert Level 4 period.

The appearance of all defendants in custody is to be via AVL if that facility is available.

Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court

Attendance will be by way of telephone conferences only. Where a participant is in custody awaiting entry into treatment any further remand in custody by consent is to be dealt with by telephone. In any other case the matter is to be listed before a Judge dealing with custody hearings.

Youth Court

Work in the Youth Court affecting the liberty of the young people involved. While it is the Youth Court position that the use of AVL is generally inappropriate when dealing with young people, in the context of the pandemic, the best interests of the young persons in custody are best served by a hearing proceeding in that way.

Those young people who are in police custody following arrest will be brought to the court unless AVL facilities are available in Police cells.

All other cases will be adjourned on the papers for one month from the current hearing date without appearance.

Civil

Returning Offenders applications and injunction applications that merit urgent attention.

Some Harmful Digital Communication applications, and Restraining Order applications, and Tenancy Tribunal Appeals may be in the same category.

Generally, priority proceedings will include matters considered to be of such significant national or community importance that the immediate attention of the District Court is warranted. This category may include proceedings taken by or that arise out of actions taken by public officials during the Alert Level 4 period.

Heemi Taumaunu
Chief District Court Judge

Environment – Covid shows now is the time to strengthen environmental protections

Source: Greenpeace
Wednesday, April 1 – As the Covid-19 pandemic takes its toll on the New Zealand economy, Greenpeace is pushing back on industry lobbyists and politicians arguing for weakening and delaying environmental protections.
The environment group says that now more than ever, we need to protect the things that are essential to our health and wellbeing, like clean water, a safe climate and healthy ecosystems.
"While the rest of the nation is uniting to fight Covid-19, big polluters and their advocates are trying to exploit the crisis for their own material benefit, " says Greenpeace campaigner Gen Toop.
Federated Farmers has called for a delay on fresh water, climate and biodiversity regulation, there have been calls to delay marine protection, and Shane Jones has expressed a desire to ride roughshod over the RMA.
"One of the biggest mistakes we could make right now would be to overlook or undervalue the essentials that nature provides to us," says Toop.
"If we don’t safeguard and regenerate nature’s essential services, we leave ourselves open to multiple threats in the future."
Experts have linked the emergence of infectious diseases with increasing pressure on the natural world, and the World Health Organisation has warned that climate change will have major consequences for infectious disease transmission.
"It is deeply disturbing to see some politicians and dairy industry lobbyists using this crisis to try to weaken and delay critical environmental protections, like new rules to protect our drinking water, rivers and lakes," says Toop.
As the government prepares a multi-billion dollar economic stimulus package to manage the Covid-19 downturn, Toop says we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in protecting the natural systems we rely on.
"Now is our chance to transform our economy and society so that it regenerates critical ecosystems, improves wellbeing and drives changes in lifestyle that promote positive environmental and health outcomes."
Greenpeace has produced a Green Covid Response package and presented it to Government Ministers.
Toop says there are some immediate "shovel-ready" projects that could roll out as soon as the lockdown lifts, including a nationwide programme to warm up New Zealand’s 600,000 under-insulated homes, and the fencing and planting of New Zealand’s waterways.
"The longer-term pathway to recovery of the kind outlined in the ‘Green Covid Response’ includes tens of thousands of good green jobs, designing and delivering the clean infrastructure we need to live well and get around," she says.
"This includes public transport, cycling and rail infrastructure; solar and wind projects; regenerative farming; eradicating pests, planting native trees and restoring critical habitats; and constructing affordable homes."

Lockdown – Media comment from InternetNZ – 50,000 free wholesale broadband connections

Source: InternetNZ
Comments can be attributed to Jordan Carter, Chief Executive, InternetNZ.
InternetNZ is pleased to see Chorus, ISPs, and the Government working together to find solutions to increasing digital inclusion during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
It’s now more important than ever that we all work together to ensure New Zealanders have the right access, skills, motivation and trust to use the Internet.
Affordable Internet access for all New Zealanders is vital to maintaining social cohesion, sharing essential information and maintaining work and education.
We are aware of a number of timely and welcome initiatives from around the telecommunications industry, including:
– wireless ISPs working in their community and with the Ministry of Education to get families connected;
– Vodafone introducing unlimited data for certain time periods for rural customers on fixed wireless plans;
– Spark partnering with Taranaki libraries to distribute Skinny Jump around the region;
– Forbearance from Spark, Vodafone and 2degress on late payment fees and excess data charges on many plans;
– Chorus’ 50,000 connection contribution, announced today to unconnected families.
COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge for New Zealand and the world. But it is very pleasing to see the industry working together to close so many digital divides through this work.
We applaud rapid action that helps make sure New Zealand families have the skills, motivation and trust to make the best use of this connectivity. All of these initiatives are very welcome.

Animal Welfare – Pig industry wants to save their bacon and risk public health

Source: SAFE NZ
The pig meat industry is struggling to store its meat while independent butchers are closed during the COVID-19 lockdown.
"The Government needs to stop the insemination of sows if the industry is struggling to house pigs," says Campaigns Manager Marianne Macdonald. "If animal welfare was a high priority, the industry would figure out a way to protect their pigs’ welfare. Calling for supply chains to re-open during a pandemic is a risk to public health."
SAFE understands the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) are holding regular national meetings with animal welfare groups regarding COVID-19. However, the Ministry is yet to announce their plans on how they will protect farmed animals during the pandemic. SAFE has sought an update from MPI but have yet to receive a response.
The lockdown has applied pressure to the whole country, and there are millions of animals on farms that need to be looked after. Slaughterhouse workers are at risk of COVID as well.
"The Government has gone above and beyond to protect human health, but when it comes to animals, they are lagging behind. Protecting animals also protects people so it is important to know what MPI plans to do to ensure the welfare of these animals."
SAFE is New Zealand’s leading animal rights organisation.
We're working towards a world where animals are understood and respected in such a way that they are no longer exploited, abused or made to suffer.
Notes:
– Businesses that are considered essential services are those that provide the necessities of life for everyone in New Zealand. Butchers, fresh produce grocers and bakeries are not considered essential services as supermarkets fulfil the same purpose.
– COVID-19 emerged from a wet market in Wuhan where farmed wildlife was sold, but there have been many zoonotic diseases have developed as a result of intensive farming, especially of pigs and chickens. The emergence of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 have increased in recent decades due to the increased intensification of animal agriculture.
– The natural lifespan of a pig is between 10 and 15 years, but most piglets on farms are killed at only six months of age. Sows are kept alive for three to five years, and are repeatedly impregnated after each litter is taken away.
– Swine flu spreads among pigs through close physical contact and contact with contaminated objects. It is estimated that up to 1.4 billion people have contracted the illness, of whom as many as half a million died. Swine flu outbreaks are common in the United States, where similarly to New Zealand, pigs are intensively farmed.
– Bird flu is a highly contagious infectious illness. It is mainly found in birds and is especially deadly for bird species such as chickens and ducks. Intensively farmed chickens and egg-laying hens are particularly vulnerable to this disease, due to the fact that the animals are usually kept closely confine in unhygienic spaces with unnaturally high stocking densities. Once an outbreak occurs on a farm, all birds are killed in an effort to stop the disease from spreading.

Economy – PMI and PSI surveys postponed

Source: BusinessNZ
Unfortunately, the March Business NZ-BNZ PMI and PSI will not be produced.
In deference to our business community, which is currently under unprecedented stress, we have decided that conducting these surveys at this time would be inappropriate.
Similarly, we cancelled our surveys immediately following the Christchurch earthquake.
At this stage we are hoping to resume the survey in April if conditions permit.