VICTORIA – Thursday’s dismal quarterly report by the Liberal finance minister shows they continue to mismanage our finances and cannot be trusted, say the New Democrats.
“When the Liberals introduced Budget 2012 in February, they were clearly gambling on overly optimistic gas revenue projections, “said New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston. “New Democrats warned the Liberals that their projections were too optimistic and prices would fall.
“Everyone knew the Liberals were being unrealistic and now it has come to pass with a quarterly report that shows revenue has tanked.”
The Liberal quarterly report acknowledged that their gas revenue projections were off by $1.1 billion over the next three years, and that in this year alone the Liberals will need to find another $241 million to make up the difference. Next year there will be another $389 million to look for, and following that, an additional $483 million in 2014-15.
In the spring, Ralston raised concerns about gas revenue projections with former Finance Minister Kevin Falcon following the release of Budget 2012. Ralston said in the legislature in May, ”There are some assumptions in the budget. Plus or minus one dollar change in natural gas prices equals plus or minus $350 to $390 million. Obviously, a swing in the natural gas price can have a huge impact upon provincial revenue. The minister will know that the longer-term projections for the price of natural gas have been trending downward, given the shale gas revolution and given extra supply in North America.”
Ralston asked the finance minister if those projections for the budget have been revised.
The minister stood by the projections, saying, “It's something that we continue to watch and monitor very closely.”
Ralston said it was irresponsible of the finance minister to shrug off the concerns about falling gas revenues, and now the province is in a serious mess.
“The Liberals’ Budget 2012 is shaping up to look just like their 2009 pre-election budget,” said New Democrat finance critic Bruce Ralston. “That was the one where they told voters the deficit would be $495 million maximum, and that they wouldn’t bring in an HST.
“British Columbians all know how that turned out. As soon as the election was over, the deficit magically turned out to be six times higher, and the Liberals announced an HST. British Columbians simply have no reason to trust budget projections coming from this government.”
“By the time the Liberals present their 2013 pre-election budget in February, there may not be a British Columbian left who believes them.”
Ralston said after 11 years of the Liberals making life less affordable with raising fees, premiums, hydro rates and the HST, the Liberals want you to suddenly believe they care about affordability for families.
“The truth is they simply don’t have any credibility, and thanks to a Budget 2012 document built on overly rosy projections, can’t afford to undo any of that damage now,” said Ralston. “The Liberals made their decision years ago to reward financial institutions, executives and the already wealthy. Now hard-working British Columbians will have to continue to pay for those misplaced Liberal priorities.”