23 November 2021
[FYI request #17249 email]
Thank you for your Official Information Act request, received on 28 October 2021. You
1. Any cost:benefit analyses of various policy approaches to responding to the
COVID-19 pandemic, including 1a - the date requested 1b - the date received 1c
- the date the information was considered by Cabinet
2 if you cannot provide the full text, please provide a listing of all costs and
benefits considered in any cost:benefit analysis (e.g. - the following is purely
theoretical) Level 4:
Benefits: Fewer deaths
Costs: Health reductions from reduced gym attendance and exercise
3 if you are aware, could you also provide the title and date of any cost:benefit
analyses on COVID-19 that were provided to other state sector ministries or
departments (e.g. MoH)
The Government’s response to COVID-19 encompasses a wide range of policies and
investments across a wide range of agencies. The Treasury has provided advice on
the costs and benefits of various aspects of the response over time; it does not hold a
cost benefit analysis which captures the entire response programme. Accordingly, I
have refused much of your request under section 18(e) of the OIA – the document
alleged to contain the information requested does not exist or cannot be found.
There is, however, a range of publicly available information that provides a picture of
the kinds costs and benefits the Treasury has considered when providing advice on
In late-April, the Treasury published a special topic on our Alert Level economic impact
assumptions. This can be viewed here: WEU Special Topic – Alert Level Assumptions
Refresh (BEFU 2021) (treasury.govt.nz)
The Treasury’s advice on the economic and fiscal impacts of recent Alert Level
decisions will be proactively released by the Department of the Prime Minister and
Cabinet (DPMC) together with advice from the Director-General of Health, the
Treasury, and other agencies.
1 The Terrace
PO Box 3724
This information will be released on the DPMC website here: https://dpmc.govt.nz/publications/proactive-release-cabinet-material
Some work commissioned to consider the economic impacts of COVID-19, including
timing of further border re-opening and the impact of COVID-19 resurgences has also
been previously released: https://www.treasury.govt.nz/publications/information-
In February this year, the Treasury published a blog post on the use of cost-benefit
analysis in advice on the COVID response. This can be viewed here: Economic advice
in a time of COVID: How the New Zealand Treasury navigated the uncertainty of the
Finally, the Treasury has published analysis on the wellbeing impacts of COVID-19.
This considers both the economic impact of COVID, but it also considered a broader
living standards lens, considering the broader impact on New Zealanders’ wellbeing.
This can be viewed here: Discussion Paper: He Kāhui Waiora: Living Standards
Framework and He Ara Waiora - Covid-19: Impacts on Wellbeing (DP 20/02) - July
Please note that this letter (with your personal details removed) and enclosed
documents may be published on the Treasury website.
This reply addresses the information you requested. You have the right to ask the
Ombudsman to investigate and review my decision.
Chris Nees Acting Manager, Economic Policy