August 30, 2012
PCs blow fiscal hole wide open: Anderson
EDMONTON, AB (August 30, 2012): The bubble has popped on the "Alison Wonderland" pre-election budget, with out of control spending blowing a $5 billion hole in the Alberta budget and putting core programs and savings at risk, Wildrose Finance and Treasury Board Critic Rob Anderson said today.
The first quarter fiscal update released today showed about a $2 billion increase in the 2012-2013 deficit, Alberta's Sustainability Fund plunging roughly $3 billion hole to a new low of $3.3 billion; and all this with a near- record high average oil price of $92 a barrel. In the spring, Wildrose criticized the PCs for unrealistic revenue projections that would risk the economic health of the province during a time of great global economic uncertainty. The PCs accused the Wildrose as being needlessly cautious for doing so. Yet despite taking in near record oil revenues, the PCs still find themselves nowhere near able to balance the budget with the annual cash shortfalls draining Alberta's rainy day fund. “I often wonder if Premier Redford has time to read or watch the news," Anderson said. "Europe is entirely unstable, the US economy is teetering on the edge of a knife and new drilling technologies are ushering in a long term trend of lower oil prices; yet the PCs continue to spend like teenagers with no limit on their credit card. Redford is playing Russian roulette with Alberta’s finances and it’s beginning to look like there may be a bullet in the chamber this time.” Looking at the ongoing struggles in Europe and the United States combined with a long term decline in oil prices due to an impending global oil supply spike, Anderson warned that another global economic slowdown will send Alberta’s balance sheet off a cliff, empty our savings account and push the government to take on new levels of debt to be paid for by future generations. “The Redford government has not been truthful with Albertans on the financial mess their political gamesmanship has caused. You can’t budget for high oil prices based on hurricanes and Middle Eastern conflicts,” Anderson said. “These guys used phony numbers to try and boost their fortunes for the election, and now they’re asking Albertans to trust them that this is just a temporary blip? I don't see how anyone could honestly trust this government anymore.” Anderson also blasted the government for pushing the fiscal update to the eve of a long weekend and not releasing hard numbers on the true size of the growing deficit. “This government has completely broken with the tradition of releasing an updated budget based on first quarter results,” Anderson said. “They are playing fast and loose with the numbers in order to cover up their fiscal incompetence.”