Ryman Healthcare urged to repay $14.2M COVID wage subsidy in NZ

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The village and aged care operator has been urged to repay the funding it received from the New Zealand Government during the pandemic after delivering $44 million in dividends to shareholders.

In a report published on Stuff.co.nz, Ryman argues it has spent more than three times the sum on PPE, extra cleaning and staff, but critics question this justification.

Auckland University Professor of Financial Accounting, Jilnaught Wong says this is part of Ryman’s duty as an operator, and not grounds for Government assistance.

But in the same report, Ryman board chairman David Kerr says the subsidy had enabled them to keep employing their staff as well as engage new staff to keep villages safe.

“Effectively, we kept and grew jobs and so when you then look at the other side of it in terms of what we have spent to keep our villages safe and our staff safe, we’ve probably spent about three times the wage subsidy,” he said.

“We felt that the whole thing balanced out. That it was appropriate to pay a dividend. That’s been our practice over many years to pay 50% of the underlying profit and so the Board decided that was the right call to make.”

The NZ Government’s wage subsidy scheme had offered financial support to businesses to ensure they could maintain employment and staff payments.

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Ben is an experienced writer and content producer, having covered finance, retirement income, travel and technology in previous roles. He provides editorial support for the DCM Group’s mastheads.