Govt won't promise second surplus
By Peter Wilson
The Government is congratulating itself for achieving a 2014/15 Budget surplus, but it won't give an assurance the books are going to stay in the black.
Treasury's full year accounts for the last financial year were released yesterday, showing a $414 million surplus after the May budget forecast a $684m deficit.
Treasury's predictions clearly don't always last the distance, but when the last budget was presented it forecast a $176m surplus for the 2015/16 financial year.
Finance Minister Bill English wouldn't commit to that yesterday after saying he expected revenue to be lower than forecast because of the fall in dairy prices.
"We would certainly prefer to have surpluses because it would help us deal with debt," he told reporters.
Asked whether he was promising to stay in surplus, he replied: "We are going to go through a process of re-doing our fiscal targets - that's the best answer I can give you."
Prime Minister John Key says the government will be "working very hard" to stay in surplus.
Labour's finance spokesman, Grant Robertson, doesn't believe the government will achieve a surplus in 2015/16 or 2016/17.
"This is just a one-off blip," he said after the 2014/15 surplus was announced.
"Bill English can claim one out of seven - he's going to be looking at one out of nine."