Liberal ministers can’t keep story straight on hydro and budget

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VICTORIA – Two senior B.C. Liberal ministers can’t get their stories straight on whether taking $545 million from B.C. Hydro would affect the government’s budget.

After the shocking revelation that B.C. Hydro rates could spike by 26 per cent over the next two years, leaked documents from the Crown Corporation suggested one solution would be for the province to forego the more than half-billion dollars it hands over to the province.

The finance minister and the energy minister are at odds about what that would mean to the bottom line:

“We did our budget prognosis essentially on the basis of receiving the dividend from B.C. Hydro and we intend to receive that dividend this fiscal year. We will not be able to balance our budget if we don’t receive that dividend.” – Energy Minister Bill Bennett, Sept. 11, 2013

“Whether the cash is with B.C. Hydro, or elsewhere in government, does not in any way influence whether or not the budget is balanced. The budget is balanced and would be, even without the payment of the dividend. – Finance Minister Mike De Jong, Sept. 13, 2013

The Liberals continue to claim their bogus budget is balanced, but most British Columbians, including the energy minister, understand that if you receive $545 million less in revenue, then you’ll have $545 million less to spend. Which Liberal minister is right, and which one is wrong?