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New Zealand prime minister takes 20% pay cut amid coronavirus pandemic

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In a time of global crisis, many world leaders are taking unique steps to handle the unprecedented situation. New Zealand Prime Minsiter Jacinda Ardern is now in the spotlight after announcing Wednesday that she and other top government officials would take a 20% pay cut during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Today I can confirm that myself, government ministers and public service chief executives will take a 20% pay cut for the next six months as we acknowledge New Zealanders who are reliant on wage subsidies, taking pay cuts and losing their jobs as a result of COVID-19's global pandemic," Ardern said during a press briefing.

"We feel acutely the struggle that many New Zealanders are facing. And so to do the people that I work with on a daily basis. And while it in and of itself won't shift the government's overall fiscal position, it is about leadership and I acknowledge my colleagues, both in the executive but also the colleagues we work with and the public service and for the decision that was taken today," Ardern continued.

New Zealanders Adjust To Life In Lockdown Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during an update on the COVID-19 national response at Parliament on April 15, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. Getty Images

The prime minister said this is just one of many actions being taken by many people to help "tackle the health and economic challenges of COVID-19." New Zealand also implemented a more than $23 billion economic package, including a wage subsidy which has paid out over $9 million to over 1.5 million New Zealanders who needed it the most, Ardern said.

New Zealand has had 1,386 confirmed coronavirus cases and 9 deaths as of Wednesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins.

While millions of people around the world are losing pay or being laid off completely, some business leaders have offered to cut their own salaries to ease the burden on their companies. At Disney, one of the biggest corporations in America, chairman Bob Iger said he would forgo his salary during this time and CEO Bob Chapek said he would take a 50% salary cut. 

Delta CEO Ed Bastian also said he would give up his salary for the rest of the year. Kent Taylor, the CEO of a smaller company, Texas Roadhouse restaurants, announced he would give up his salary and bonus from March 18 through January 7, 2021, CBS Austin reports.  

Ardern is not the first political leader to take such a pay cut to help her country. In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top government figures will take a 30% salary cut this year, as the country is challenged with the coronavirus outbreak and its economic impact, Reuters reports.

It was announced on Monday that Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and his entire cabinet will be taking a 10% pay cut during the crisis, CBS Minnesota reports. 

In the U.S. other financial measures have been taken to help bolster the economy and those who lost pay or work during the pandemic. The $2.2 trillion stimulus package will help American families who are hurting financially due to the economic impact of the pandemic. Millions of adults will receive $1,200 checks, plus $500 for each of their children. The massive relief package will funnel $290 billion in direct payments to individuals and families. 

President Trump has donated his salary since he assumed office, choosing a different beneficiary each quarter. He recently chose the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to receive his 2019 fourth quarter salary, White House Press Secretary Kayliegh McEnany announced in March.

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