Buswell delivers surplus by skin of his teeth

25 Sep, 2009 07:07 AM
Troy Buswell says the WA budget had remained in surplus, but only just.
Troy Buswell says the WA budget had remained in surplus, but only just.

WA Treasurer Troy Buswell has announced the state remained in surplus last financial year - by the skin of its teeth.

The Annual Report on State Finances for last financial year showed a general government sector operating surplus of $318 million, almost five times less than the $1.5 billion originally forecast by the former Carpenter Labor Government.

"I am pleased the state's books were in the black in 2008-09, however the results show the importance of the government's efforts to control unsustainable expenditure growth," Mr Buswell said.

"Today's report follows recent news of a rise in business confidence and the unanimous endorsement for our Triple-A credit rating from both Moody's and Standard and Poor's."

Mr Buswell said those plaudits reflected the success of the government's capital works audit, three per cent efficiency dividend, economic audit, wages policy and implementation of a cap on full time government employment.

"We will continue to carefully manage the state's finances to ensure that Western Australia is well positioned for the next period of sustained economic growth," he said.

The report compares the state's financial performance for the financial year with projections in the 2008-09 Budget, released on May 8, 2008, four months before the Barnett Government was sworn in.

The report showed general government revenue grew by 0.5 per cent in 2008-09, down from the 5.5 per cent forecast by the Carpenter Government in May 2008.

Mr Buswell said this result reflected the impact of the global financial crisis.

Revenue from state taxes, GST grants and royalties was down $1.6 billion (or 12 per cent) compared to the forecast.

These shortfalls were partly offset by a higher level of specific purpose grants from the Federal Government.

General government expense growth of 13.5 per cent was up from the forecast 7.7 per cent growth.

Mr Buswell justified the blowout by saying it included the impact of implementing Barnett Government election commitments and working with the Commonwealth on its economic stimulus package.

A record $5.8 billion was spent on infrastructure, down $691 million on the original Budget estimate but up $821 million on the previous record of $5 billion in 2007-08.

Total public sector net debt increased to $6.8 billion at June 30, 2009, up $3.2 billion from the outcome recorded a year earlier, but $1.2 billion lower than the original budget estimate.



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