By ERWIN CHLANDA
Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro may be on a mission impossible tomorrow: During Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearings she will be asking Chief Minister Michael Gunner 14 questions about government finances.
These are issues that normally come to light in the Budget but courtesy COVID, that has been delayed, likely until after the elections scheduled for August.
This is convenient for Mr Gunner whose government has incurred a record deficit requiring interest payments of more than $1m a day.
The Alice Springs News asked Mr Gunner on March 11 in Alice Springs: “What is the collateral for your government’s borrowing?”
This was his reply:
Ms Finocchiaro remains determined: “There’s no excuse for the Government not having the answers. The Opposition has called for a full Budget and Estimates process, as well as a Pre-Election Fiscal Outlook to be handed down.
“However, the Government is arrogant and it may not proceed that way. If that’s the case, the PAC is the Government’s chance to answer specific questions.
“The PAC is the Government’s scrutiny solution. If it can’t answer questions there, the whole process will be shown to be a complete farce.”
Here are Ms Finocchiaro’s questions:–
• What is the projected general government net operating deficit for financial year 2020-21?
• What is the projected non-financial public sector fiscal balance deficit for financial year 2020-21?
• What is the projected non-financial sector net debt for financial year 2020-21?
• What is the projected net debt to revenue ratio for financial year 2020-21?
• What is the projected total infrastructure investment for financial year 2020-21?
• What proportion of the $300 million Treasurer’s Advance included in the Supply (2020-21) Bill 2020 has been allocated and how much of that amount remains unallocated?
• How was the $300 million Treasurer’s Advance included in the Supply (2020-21) Bill 2020 financed?
• Have any additional Treasurer’s Advances been requested or approved since 24 March 2020?
• What is the expected revenue for the non-financial public sector in 2020-21?
• What is the projected non-financial public sector operating expenses for financial year 2020-21?
• How much revenue has been expended on the Home Improvement Scheme to 28 April 2020?
• How much projected payroll tax relief has been waived for businesses to 28 April 2020, since the Government made its announcement to do so?
• How many power and water bills have been halved to 28 April 2020, in line with the Government’s announcement?
• Prior to the COVID-19 health crisis how many of the recommendations in the “A plan for budget repair: Final report” (the Langoulant Report) had been adopted as government policy and what evidence can you provide to support the adoption of those recommendations?
Which of these questions will Gunner answer?
By ERWIN CHLANDA