Govt surplus looking unlikely

The Treasury’s announcement today that a deficit for the 2014-15 financial year is likely shows that the Government is failing to meet the key economic target that it set itself, the Green Party said today.

“National has always emphasised that achieving a surplus is its number one goal, but it looks like it will fail to achieve that goal and instead we’ll have a $572 million deficit this financial year,” Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman said.

“We’re now seeing evidence that the Government is massaging the books in an attempt to return to surplus.”

Treasury documents released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act suggest options for reducing or delaying spending to help achieve a budget surplus, including keeping ACC levies artificially high, delaying Treaty of Waitangi settlements, slowing down the Christchurch rebuild, delaying Overseas Development Assistance spending, slowing down the Justice Sector Fund and Better Public Services programmes, and delaying Ministry of Social Development spending.

“We know the Government is keeping ACC levies higher than recommended, costing workers and businesses at least $178 million a year.

“Now it looks like delayed Treaty of Waitangi settlements are also contributing to the so-called strides the Government has made in improving the fiscal position.

“Less spending on research and development grants is also contributing, which in the long term will hold our economy back.

“Will the Government also delay the Christchurch rebuild just for the sake of a tiny surplus, as the Treasury suggested?

“Massaging the books and delaying key spending priorities is no substitute for a real economic development plan.

“The huge gap between forecast and actual results announced today shows that the Government doesn’t have a good handle on the economy,” Dr Norman said.