Govt expects to achieve $1B Budget surplus
By Peter Wilson
Treasury is about to open the books on the last financial year, and they're expected to show that the Government has ended up with a Budget surplus after all.
The May Budget forecast a $684 million deficit for the 2014/15 year, after the Government had promised a surplus, and it faced a torrent of opposition criticism.
However, as Treasury worked through the accounts the situation improved, and figures for the 11 months to the end of May showed a surplus of $1.17 billion.
The year ended on June 30, and the final accounts will be released around 1pm today.
Finance Minister Bill English said when he presented the Budget there could be a turnaround.
In Parliament yesterday he wasn't giving anything away.
"A return to surplus was always a stretch target," he said.
"Regardless of whether the annual accounts show a small surplus or a small deficit, the overall trend is in the right direction."
Labour's finance spokesman, Grant Robertson, expects the accounts will show a small surplus.
"It's almost certain the Government will announce a surplus for the last financial year ... that they only just managed to scrape it together is poor financial management," he said.
Mr Robertson is forecasting deficits for the current financial year and the next, contrary to the May Budget's projections for modest surpluses.
"National's financial management will go down in history as one small surplus out of nine budget deficits," he said.