Harriett Baldwin welcomes IMF praise for the UK’s economic response to the coronavirus pandemic and questions the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the need to put the UK public finances back on a sustainable footing.
Last week, the IMF singled out for praise the UK’s economic response to the coronavirus, citing the timeliness, the speed of response, the generosity and the flexibility of the approach. The managing director said:
“We welcome the continuing efforts the government has made to refine its support measures”.
Does my right hon. Friend also agree with the second part of what the IMF said last week, which is that over the medium to long term, we do need to put the UK public finances back on a sustainable footing?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and she will of course know this well from her own experience. We welcome the independent scrutiny of institutions such as the IMF—they are helpful in providing accountability for the Government in our economic response—and I am delighted that it was so positive about what we have done. She is also right that it said, correctly, that over the medium term, we must restore public finances to a sustainable position. Now is the time to provide fiscal support through a very weak period, but we want to build resilience for future crises so that when the next one of these comes along, we can respond in the same strong and generous way that we have been able to do this time.