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  • Tom Osborne Provides First Fiscal Update

    The province’s new Finance Minister will be introducing legislation aimed at making government agencies, boards and commissions more accountable to the public. It’s all part of Tom Osborne’s first fall fiscal update, provided today.

    Last spring’s budget forecast a deficit of about $780-million. That has gone up to about $850-million primarily because of lower revenue. Core government spending for departments has gone down, but agencies, boards and commissions are spending more.

    Borrowing requirements are up primarily because of lower cash revenues and a $137-million increase in Nalcor equity requirements. The net debt is down slightly to $14.6-billion. The province is spending about $2-million a day to service the debt—it used to be more than double that amount.

    Oil revenues are $147-million lower than expected, but the projected price of oil is $56 per barrel for the last few months of the year, up from the projected $52 per barrel at budget time.

    Offshore oil royalties were down $147-million and personal income tax revenue is down more than $150-million from the original 2017 projections. However increased corporate income tax and mining tax revenues have increased more than $125-million.

    Although government has managed to cut department expenses by more than $20-million, agencies, boards and commissions, which make up 60 per cent of budget expenses, have increased by just over $18-million.

    Osborne says he will be bringing forward legislation that will make agencies, boards and commissions more accountable and add pressure on to cut expenses.

    But while the Liberals are making headway when it comes to bringing the province back to surplus, opposition members are not pleased with how they’re going about it. Opposition Finance Critic Keith Hutchings says Osborne isn’t being clear about how he plans to reduce expenses at government level.

    He says everyone recognizes there needs to be spending reductions in government, but some of the initiatives Minister Osborne is talking about don’t address the underlying issues.

    Osborne told reporters today that he will be bringing forward legislation that will make agencies, boards and commissions more accountable and add pressure to cut their expenses.

    Interim NDP Leader Lorraine Michael says she’s worried about what more cuts could mean for social assistance. She says it’s disturbing to hear the Finance Minister beating around the bush about what his intentions are when it comes to reducing spending for agencies boards and commissions.

    Michael says we do not need more cuts to social services in this province.

    Read the full report at this link: http://www.fin.gov.nl.ca/fin/budget/fall_updates.html

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