State Budget: uncertainty oncash reserves

20/05/2018 Posted by admin

Michael AirdTREASURER Michael Aird is refusing to say where the State Government will source nearly $800 million in cash reserves, despite Premier David Bartlett saying the money is available. In the weeks leading up to this year’s state budget, the Premier has been boasting of the state’s strong financial management over the past decade as a means of cushioning the impact of the global financial crisis. He has been saying that it is time to “get the hay out of the barn” after the state returned several consecutive surpluses, with around $800 million available to help the state ride out global financial conditions. But after concerns from Opposition treasury spokesman Peter Gutwein, the Treasurer has been unable to say where the $800 million would come from. Mr Gutwein fears the figure has been overestimated. He said the state held just over $2.3 billion in cash in the public account – all of which was already allocated in areas including the Superannuation Provision Account, infrastructure project funding, water infrastructure projects, the risk management fund and patient trust accounts. Mr Gutwein said he believed the State Government had at most around $500 million in cash reserves, unless it cut funding through the public account. “Where the Premier intends to get his $800 million from needs to be explained,” Mr Gutwein said. “Does David Bartlett intend to spend the superannuation funds, the risk management funds or even the patient trust accounts to fund the $800 million he has said he will `take out of the barn’?” When asked where the money came from, Mr Aird wouldn’t say how it could be sourced. Instead, in a statement released late yesterday afternoon, Mr Aird attacked the Liberal Party, accusing it of having “no financial credibility whatsoever”. “In over a decade they have never prepared an alternative budget, they have never put forward an alternative fiscal strategy,” Mr Aird wrote. Mr Gutwein said the Treasurer’s inability to answer the question suggested the money wasn’t there. “Any reasonable analysis of the budget papers indicates that the $800 million is not available,” Mr Gutwein said.The State Budget will be handed down on Thursday. FULL STATE BUDGET PREVIEW IN THE EXAMINER TODAY
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