29 September 2007

The Open Cheque-book Government

Danny Williams recently accused Gerry Reid of planning an open cheque-book government.

For the record, here is the public sector debt since 2003, as contained in the provincial estimates for 2007.

Table 1: Public Sector Debt FY 2003 - FY 2007(f)

Source: Dept of Finance, Budget 2007, millions of CDN$

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007f
Direct 6692.7 6581.5 7244.0 7069.5 7306.5
Crown 2404.1 2885.8 2657.4 2660.4 2666.9
Total* 8007.1 8345.2 8644.4 8355.6 8496.4
* Total is Direct and Crown debt, less sinking funds

Since 2003, the total public debt has increased by $489.3 million. Direct debt increased by $612.9 million. This continued the trend for the previous four years.

In the same time, the provincial governments net expenditure (capital and current) rose by 35% ($1.307 billion) from $3.674 billion to $4.981 billion.

Gross expenditure (capital and current) rose 30% from $4.261 billion in FY 2003 to $5.560 billion in FY 2007.

This is significantly beyond the annual rate of inflation for the province, which averaged 2.275% between 2003 and 2006.

At a speaking engagement in Corner Brook:
Williams ridiculed Reid’s business sense, comparing his understanding of the oil industry to the popular U.S. TV show, “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

“This is not Jed Clampett, Gerry. This is big business.”
Funny thing about that attempted slur is that Jed Clampett was actually a wily, sensible and conservative gentleman.