Tempers flared in Wellington on Wednesday as Grant Robertson fronted up to a select committee to defend his first Budget, but the dispute yet again highlighted the political positioning of both parties over debt.
Treasury reported the Government's surplus was $910 million better than expected in the nine months to March 2018, largely because solid economic growth drove higher corporate tax receipts, higher income taxes and higher GST receipts. Treasury said tax revenues were $1.1 billion better than it forecast in December and this was expected to hold for the rest of the financial year.
The Government is looking at new and novel ways of financing infrastructure without breaking its strict budget responsibility rules.
8 things that mattered this week
The last week has seen the Labour-led Government confirm it is not going to deviate far from National’s fiscal policies, and will continue to fund public services at similar levels. How do we explain this insistence on fiscal conservatism in the face of clear and urgent need, and growing calls for change? Victoria University’s Dr Bryce Edwards argues that the Finance Minister and his colleagues have become so immersed in pragmatic electoral calculations they’ve lost touch with the shift away from orthodox economics.
The new Government's self-imposed debt target is limiting its ability to borrow to fix growing infrastructure deficits. Bernard Hickey reports it will be forced into fancy and expensive financing tools such as PPPs and infrastructure bonds.
In today's email we check out the size of the kitchen sink finance minister Steven Joyce may lob at the electorate with the upcoming Budget.
The Government has lowered its target for the debt to GDP ratio, effectively shifting one of the anchors of its economic policy. Bernard Hickey looks at why the Government made the change and how it might restrict its choices over the long run around tax cuts, infrastructure spending and social spending.
For the convenience of subscribers, here's my weekend column in which I say that, just as our society has created an obesity-generating environment, it has also created a debt generating environment. Somehow, we have to change those social cues.
Bill English has unveiled his eighth Budget with few major surprises and barely enough room for tax cuts from next year.