Local MLA speaks out about Provinces fiscal situation
On Aug. 29, the Government of Alberta released its first quarter findings on the provinces’ fiscal situation for the period of April to June of this year, and the numbers are causing a stir with a local MLA.
The Province has declared that its quarter one findings are running at an operational surplus of $715 million, due to higher revenues from the oil and gas sectors and a strong economy.
“While we are seeing an improvement in energy prices, we know all too well how unstable they can be and the impact that can have on Alberta’s bottom line,” said Doug Horner, president of Treasury Board and minister of finance. “It’s vital that the government continues to make tough choices, live within our means and seek out efficiencies through results-based budgeting. These actions will maintain our financial strength and position as Canada’s economic engine, while allowing us to continue with our Building Alberta Plan.”
The release outlined the Province’s operational revenue for the first quarter was recorded at $9.9 billion - $211 million higher than expected. Its operational expenses cost the Province $9.2 billion - $120 million lower than expected, which is resulting in the $715 million surplus.
Rob Anderson, Airdrie MLA, warned Rocky View County residents not to be fooled by the numbers.
“The finance minister is saying they are claiming to be running a $700-million surplus,” Anderson said. “It’s a two-book system. They’ve (already) spent $1.5 billion.”
The “two-book system” has come under fire from Anderson before, saying that the new budget reporting style is difficult to understand and figures can be misunderstood.
Anderson also commented on the cost to rebuild flood affected areas, devastated by the June flooding, saying that the majority, two-thirds of the costs to re-build, will be covered by the federal government and insurance companies.
The figure estimated by the provincial government - $5 to $6 billion to rebuild – should only cost the Province $1.5 billion.
“That’s still a lot of money, and we do have to spend on the rebuilding efforts,” he said.
Anderson also added that doing away with the Province’s carbon capture program – an environmental effort to reduce emissions – would save the Province $1 billion.
According to the Canadian Tax Payers Association, “the operating deficit in 2013-14 will be at least $451 million. That is a cash shortfall for the day-to-day expenses of the government for things like salaries, running MRI machines and buying paperclips. This is the figure that Finance Minister Doug Horner wants Albertans think about.”
The association goes to describe that “yet, while the government spends $38.6 billion on operations, there is still another $5.2 billion spent on the capital plan, which has been rolled into separate budget entirely.”
Quarter two results will be release in October.