Today I presented to the Legislative Assembly the 2012-13 Budget Review, which confirms the Budget is on track to return to surplus on schedule in 2015-16.
The forecast General Government Sector Headline Net Operating Balance for 2012-13 is estimated to be a deficit of $362.9 million. This is expected to improve to a deficit of $138.7 million in 2013-14, a deficit of $103.2 million in 2014-15 and a surplus of $29.3 million in 2015-16.
For the curious here’s the planned path to prosperity:
To ensure the budget returns to surplus, through the development of the 2013-14 Budget the Government will review the Budget, its borrowing strategy, the capital works program, service delivery, and revenue.
This will involve decisions to ensure our budget position is sustainable for the long-term to continue delivering high quality services, notably in disability services through the NDIS and education through the Gonski reforms, and priority infrastructure projects such as light rail and the new northside hospital. In particular, we will ensure that expenditure is restrained, including:
– Driving savings and efficiencies in the use of consultants, advertising, travel and printing;
– Delaying some projects;
– Continuing to review the capital program; and
– Further driving efficiency in the ACT public service.
However, this will be done in keeping with our strong fiscal objectives, which:
– Are a measured response to changing economic and fiscal circumstances;
– Provide flexibility for adjustments should circumstances change;
– Ensure that we do not harm our economy and community by undertaking a knee-jerk response;
– Ensure that we respond to growth in the need for services, particularly in health and education; and
– Allow us to appropriately engage the community about service delivery priorities, and where additional revenue may be raised or savings made.
Bear in mind the next election is in far off 2016
UPDATE 14/02/13 17:16: Brendan Smyth wants to know how the debt pile can get bigger while we at the same time aim for a surplus:
The ACT 2012-13 Budget Review tabled in the Assembly today shows the government borrowing more funds than previously announced and yet they still struggle to return the budget to surplus said ACT Shadow Treasurer, Brendan Smyth.
“The budget outlook is $82 million worse off over the next four years, because the government continues to spend beyond their means. Despite this the government still wants us to believe that they can return the Budget to surplus in 2015-16,” Mr Smyth said.
“The update also reveals that the government will borrow almost $100 million more this year than anticipated.
“What this shows is that the government’s tax and budget policies are not working. Canberrans now live in what is regarded as the highest taxing jurisdiction in the country and yet this financial year we will still see one of the highest deficits ever.
“The government needs to explain what programs and services they will cut or what taxes they will increase to plug this hole,” Mr Smyth concluded.