03 March 2008

How do you say "disingenuous"?

Try "Minister of Finance."

The provincial finance minister is on CBC bright and early Monday morning picking up a theme he started a week or so ago while on the road with his budget roadshow.

Seems that the provincial government is running into cost over-runs on its capital works budget.

Not surprising at all. Costs for building supplies, gasoline and so forth have all increased.

But Marshall talks about how the current surplus, of nearly a billion dollars, is being spent.

Marshall said about $350 million of that surplus [of $880 million] will be spent on infrastructure. More than $100 million will be used to buy an interest in offshore oil developments.

That's not really the whole story though.  Minister Marshall should note - as he has in the past - that the $350 million is actually not extra spending.  It's just replacing money the provincial government planned to borrow to do whatever capital works they had in the pipeline.  It's not that there's anything wrong with spending the cash instead of borrowing;  it's just a little misleading not to make it plain that, despite an unheard of surplus, no new infrastructure work is being done.

of course, the rising cost of infrastructure has nothing to do with why Mr. Marshall and his colleagues kept a report secret for three years that documented the sorry state of city hospitals.

Oh yes.  And why they did nothing about the report's contents, except hide them.