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The state government will give every adult in NSW four $25 vouchers to spend separately on dining and entertainment in a key pandemic stimulus measure to encourage visits to struggling cafes, restaurants and cultural institutions.
The centrepiece of Tuesday's state budget will be the $500 million Out and About scheme, which will offer the state's 6 million adults $100 worth of vouchers to spend across NSW.
NSW Dominic Perrottet, with the freshly printed budget papers, will deliver the state’s biggest deficit in a generation.Credit:Edwina Pickles
Two of the vouchers can be redeemed in restaurants, cafes and clubs and two vouchers can be used for entertainment such as cultural institutions, performing arts, cinemas and amusement parks.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet will deliver his fourth budget on Tuesday with the largest deficit in a generation. The budget will contain record borrowing amid super low interest rates. It will be five years before the budget is returned to surplus, Mr Perrottet has said.
Infrastructure spending and job creation will be a priority and the Treasurer has guaranteed there will be no public sector job losses as unemployment in NSW soars towards 7.5 per cent by Christmas.
Mr Perrottet warned the challenges facing the state "will not be short-lived".
"In the past we have been criticised for the size of our surpluses. But this is why we run them," he said.
"Public spending is not a permanent solution. We will generate momentum in the short term, then reinforce our finances with the discipline that has defined our time in office."
The vouchers cannot be used for retail or on products such as alcohol, gambling and cigarettes.
In a deliberate bid to get people to spend more and return to a business, the vouchers also cannot be combined, such as using two $25 dining vouchers to make a single $50 transaction.
Service NSW will run the scheme and a business must register to be part of the voucher program. Businesses will also need to register as COVID-safe to participate.
Active Kids and Creative Kids vouchers have been a key cost-of-living measure in previous NSW budgets but the government is hoping the adult offering will be a sweetener to its historic deficit.
Each $25 voucher will only be able to be used once, and if the total spend is less than $25 the residual amount will expire.
The government will run a trial of the program in Sydney's CBD next month with the full program formally named and launched in early 2021.
There are also plans to limit the use of the dining vouchers to days which are less busy such as Monday to Thursday to better manage COVID-19 restrictions.
Mr Perrottet said the scheme was designed to get stimulus flowing directly into the economy and to support jobs and help businesses through a difficult time post-Christmas.
"We want to encourage people to open up their wallets and contribute to the stimulus effect," he said.
"The dining and entertainment industries were among the hardest hit by the pandemic and I would encourage people to utilise this scheme once it is up and running and to make sure they spend a bit extra on the way through too."
Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said the government would run a pilot scheme to ensure any issues were ironed out before launching in the new year.
"Applying for a voucher will be simple and easy and made available via the Service NSW app," Mr Dominello said.
"We must be COVID smart as well as COVID safe and the success of this program will depend upon people continuing to follow the rules."
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