NDP Leader questions government’s fiscal management
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi) had questions about fiscal management for the government in the House of Assembly today. The questions centred around the province’s 2012 budget, People and Prosperity: Responsible Investments for a Secure Future.
Her first question was about the accumulated cash which has accrued since 2004. “We have more than $2 billion in cash,” Michael said today. “This is money that government has socked away over the past few fiscal years. This money is not even earning a reasonable rate of interest, let alone being invested in ways that could benefit the province. This is not prudent financial management.”
Michael also raised alarms about the government’s unfunded pension liability. Although government put $258 million into that fund, the liability still grew by $700 million. “This unfunded pension liability will continue to grow at an alarming rate,” Michael said. “I see no indication that there is a solid plan to deal with this, and I asked the Premier in the House today to tell us if such a plan existed, and if so, what it is. I asked, but got no clear answer from the Minister of Finance.”
She had criticism, also, for the government’s comparison of this year’s net provincial debt with that of 2004, despite the fact that the debt actually rose 8.9 per cent, or $691 million since last year. “I ask the Premier,” Michael said in the House, “is government trying to hide the fact the province’s debt is growing?”
Michael also noted that for the first time in many years, a document detailing departmental salaries was not published and included with other budget documents. “This is a key document, and suppressing it contradicts government’s stated commitment to openness and transparency,” Michael said.
Overall, Michael insists, the budget has little for people, does little to encourage prosperity, and makes no responsible investments for a secure future for the province.