30 August 2009

Carry over

One of the great budgetary practices of the current administration is something called carry over.

Projects are budgeted and announced in one year and then they don’t get started, let alone finished.

Government gets multiple good news hits out the practice. 

First, they get the warm fuzzy media coverage from announcing the spending in the first place.  Sometimes they keep announcing the spending even though it hasn’t happened.  Second, if by some chance work does start, they can announce that and keep it up until the thing is finished.  it’s not unusual to see things started four years continue to appear  in releases as if it was part of current spending.

Like say a hospital in Corner Brook that was tossed into the “stimulus” counter-measure even though it was begun and should have been finished long before anyone even thought of a recession.

Now when the project doesn’t happen, there is never an announcement of the bad news.  Not likely.  The money budgeted but not spent becomes “surplus” and is part of the announcement of the record “surplus” in the spring.

Then the project is carried over into the new budget and re-announced.

If the delay has caused increased costs, this is not something to be chagrined about.  Not on your life.  Any politician worth his or her salt will trumpet the fact the same project will now cost even more because of the delay.  If any one of us mere mortals missed the chance for a good deal and had to pay 30% more for the same thing, we’d be kicking ourselves for being so stunned.  When politicians drop the ball; and it costs you 30% more for the same thing, that is a great investment in the local community.

And if it jumps 71%, as in the St. Alban’s aquaculture centre?  Well, that is just “stimulus”.

Carry over is very big in the current provincial government administration.  They carry over lots of things. 

Like in Labrador West, where a new hospital was promised just in time for a by-election in late 2006/early 2007 and the thing is still in the planning stages the better part of three years later.

Or a new campus for the College of the North Atlantic.  Tender went out on May 4 with a closing date of June 17.  (Well, the initial news release in early May said the thing was going to tender.  A “stimulus” announcement in June said the thing would be tendered in June.)

The tender was awarded three weeks ago – i.e. about a month or more after the tender closed – and as we slide easily into Labour Day, Jim Baker, the local MHA has no idea when the thing will get started. But Baker can assure residents of the area that the project costs have climbed from $18 million to $22 million and that no steel framework will be done this year.


But they might get the site prepared and concrete poured.


So the campus project will be carried over until next year.

Just like the hospital.

or the aquaculture centre.

When was they supposed to be finished again?