I am very flattered the Courier-Mail has a story about me this morning with the title on its website of The man who could clear Qld’s deficit:
THE forecast deficit of $1.5 billion could be overcome by courageous decisions made to cut funds propping up industry, according to former federal Treasury economist Gene Tunny.
Mr Tunny pointed to the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA), which found there were 112 instances where $17 billion in tax concessions had been given.
It also found there was $25.3 billion in assistance from 2013 to 2018, including $5.6 billion in budget outlays and $1.3 billion in underpriced assets and services.
Alas, the Queensland Government does not appear to have looked to the QCA report on industry assistance for savings. Instead, in its Mid-Year Fiscal and Economic Review to be released today, it appears to be relying on savings from an Energex-Ergon merger ($680 million over the rest of the decade, which seems very optimistic) and the same old accounting trick it used in the Budget.
That is, the Government is increasing debt in government-owned corporations and transferring the funds to the general government sector (via special dividend payments) so it can pay down general government debt (see Brisbane Times coverage). Obviously, this does not reduce total government debt. The debt shuffle is an illusion, a sleight of hand, and no substitute for true budget repair, which can only come from reducing the gap between revenues and expenditures, preferably by cutting expenditures. My previous comments on this blog on the Government’s dubious accounting trick include:
I was quoted on this issue in the Courier-Mail earlier this year, too: