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Letter: Crunching the N.L. deficit numbers

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Confederation Building in St. John's

I wish to provide my analysis of  the Liberal government’s continued claim to have reduced the deficit by $2 billion in three years. They keep referring to a $2.7-billion deficit which is what they say they started with.

I have searched everywhere on the government website in financial reports and budget reports and can not find this real or estimated deficit number.

However, within the 2016 budget speech there was a reference to  a potential $2.7 billion deficit if the oil prices kept declining and no action was taken. 

There were no explanations within the speech to prove their numbers or actions taken.

So this alleged deficit was not incurred, so this seems to be just a fictitious number being quoted by the liberals. The deficit for 2015/2016 was $2.207 billion, some $493 million below the number they keep using.

I might note here, Premier Dwight Ball and the  Liberals were a contributor to this deficit, as they took power in December 2015 without cutting expenses and also they reversed the HST increase effective Jan. 1, 2016.

So the real deficit reduction number I need to research is really $1.507 billion.

Related story:

Budget 2018: Newfoundland and Labrador struggles with debt, government forecasting surplus in 2022

In order for me  to figure out where their number comes from I needed to look at the financial statements. 

When I went looking for the financial statements fiscal years ending March 31 ,2016, 2017 and 2018,  2016 and 2017 were available, however, March 31, 2018 is not available to the public because as of Sept. 6, 2018 financials are not posted on the government website.

As well, not all reports are posted for 2017.

(Great transparency, Premier Ball. I did email to ask but no response).

So I can only use what was available to me, the fiscal years 2016 and 2017. The deficit reductions comes from tax increases on the backs of the public of Newfoundland and Labrador of over $506 million from 2015/2016 to 2016/2017, over 33.5 per cent of the revised deficit reduction number. So the Government did nothing to contribute to the reduction in the deficit here, it was the taxpayers of Newfoundland and Labrador that funded this.

Oil revenue royalties went up in 2016/2017 over the previous year by $473 million, again 31.4 per cent of the revised deficit reduction.

Government did absolutely nothing here either, the markets worked in every Newfoundlander and Labradorian’s favour to help offset government overspending. Expenses increased from 2016 to 2017 by $125 million, not only did they not cut overspending but they increased it. So all I can account for is $979 million dollars in deficit reduction but it was all taxpaying Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and the financial market who made the contributions to the deficit not the Liberal government. But they did add to our deficit by extra spending in their first full year of office.

Of course this analysis only covers one year of the Liberals in office as current reports are unavailable.  If they were being as transparent as they claim, all reports would be available through the government website in a timely manner.

As it is approaching an election year this is not likely going to happen but it is time for this government to become fiscally responsible and cut the over spending that continues day after day. Especially, if they think neither the ratepayer nor the taxpayer is going to pay for the boondoggle project of Muskrat Falls which is a whole other topic I may discuss later.

Todd Lee

Deer Lake

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