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ACT budget deficit $245 million lower than December quarter forecast | Canberra time

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The ACT budget deficit was more than $245.5 million lower than the December quarter forecast, as the territorial government reported strong economic activity leading to a faster-than-expected recovery. The overall net operating balance in the December quarter was a deficit of $218.8 million, lower than the projected year-to-date budget deficit of $464.3 million. Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr told the Legislative Assembly on Thursday that the government’s total revenue was $230 million higher than forecast. He said there was reason to be cautiously optimistic about the year ahead, given strong retail figures and credit card spending data in the ACT, as well as d an increasing household savings rate. Mr Barr said the government would continue economic stimulus programs if needed and would “create and shape markets to encourage job creation in emerging industries”. “We are not afraid to invest public finances to avoid the harsh realities that recessionary environments can have on the economic prospects of young people and women,” he said. “By investing today to support the economy, we avoid an even greater loss of economic output and jobs that would harm our economy and our community for years to come, which would put greater continued pressure on our budget.” The ACT government ended the first quarter of 2021-22 with a surplus of $371 million in its net operating balance, but it was not expected to last with projected budget deficits until at least 2025. The deficit for this fiscal year is expected to explode to nearly $1 billion. MORE ACT POLITICS NEWS: Mr Barr said governments needed to be bold and take more risks in a bid to boost aggregate demand. “While the Canberra Liberals oscillate between regurgitating their knee-jerk Conservative policy lines against government spending and debt on some days while calling for more government intervention and assistance on others, we continue to build the economic foundations solid foundations for the territory to reach our goal of 250,000 jobs by 2025 and continue the strong and sustainable economic diversification of our economy,” Barr said. ACT Business Minister Tara Cheyne charged on Tuesday the opposition for wrongly framing economic data to suggest that businesses in the territory are facing dire conditions, when the local economy had in fact reacted strongly after the spring lockdown Ms Cheyne told the Legislature that the misuse of data was unseemly for Leanne Castley, who moved a motion calling on the ACT government to reconsider its p plan for resuming activities in light of the Omicron wave of COVID-19. Ms Castley told an earlier press conference that the resumption of business announced by the ACT government had not materialized and that the government needed a better plan to support businesses. “What we’re hearing from businesses is that they don’t want any more financial subsidies. They just want to get back to business,” Ms Castley said. Ms Castley said the lunchtime rush in the city was over and people had to go out and buy their lunch and coffees, but she stopped short of calling utility workers in ‘ACT to return to the office. The opposition spokeswoman also dodged the question of whether companies should take responsibility for their fortunes, saying they had done enough to adapt to changing circumstances. “I think businesses have done an incredible job of pivoting, which is the fun term at the time. Business has done everything it needs to. They’ve responded to health restrictions, they’ve responded to codes QR, to masks, seated,” Ms. Castley said. Ms. Cheyne moved an amendment to completely rewrite Ms. Castley’s motion on Tuesday. The amended motion noted growth in retail numbers in the ACT, leading to a banner year in 2021. The amended motion also noted that retail turnover rose 19.2% in the ACT in the month of November 2021, reaching $616 million – the highest monthly level since The Australian Bureau of Statistics has started recording.The government also pointed to figures showing retail sales in the ACT rose 12.4% in the December quarter, spending in discretionary industries areas – such as restaurants and cafes – being above the national average. In the prior quarter, land and property sales provided further impetus to the ACT budget line, while residential stamp duty revenue helped support the territory’s tax revenue during the COVID lockdown. -19. In the three months to September, the ACT collected over $83 million in residential stamp duty. That was nearly $17 million more than the amount budgeted, the ACT’s quarterly financial report showed in September. Trade stamp duties also helped swell the budget, with nearly $40 million raised. This figure was $18 million more than expected. Our reporters work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content: