09 January 2009

Budget Farce starts next week

In keeping with tradition, Jerome Kennedy, the province’s noob finance minister, will be holding a round of farcical “consultations”.

The “consultations” are open to the public.

The minister claims the sessions “provide residents the opportunity to have their voice heard with respect to their priorities for the upcoming budget.”  Since members of the public won’t have an accurate picture of public spending from 2007 – yes 2007 – until some time later in 2009 and because the public won’t have any solid information on government projections for 2009, there really isn’t much a chance that people can have meaningful  - that is, informed - imput.

But then again, that’s not what the annual farce is about. It’s about the provincial government appearing to listen while in reality telling the public what it wants them to hear and nothing more.

It’s a farce because the major budget decisions are already made.  How do we know?  Well, the Premier told us when – around this time last year – the public heard about hospital facilities reports the government had sat on for three years.  The Premier gave enough information so anyone with a clue could figure out that the amount for hospital repairs had already been set and that was while the consultations were in progress.

Government upped the figure by a paltry four million or so, compared to the umpteen millions required.  The money was available of course, given the huge oil revenues.  The provincial government just hadn’t decided to increase the repair budget by any great amount until they were embarrassed into it.

Farce on, Jerome.