Finance Minister Grant Robertson must explain two multi-billion dollar omissions from the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update released on 14 December, National Party Finance Spokesperson Steven Joyce says.
“It appears the Finance Minister has omitted reference to two particular large capital projects that meet the definition of ‘government decisions and other circumstances’ that have ‘material economic or fiscal implications’ and must be included,” Mr Joyce says.
“The $1.2-1.4 billion Dunedin Hospital is not referenced despite Mr Robertson declaring in the House on 28 November that it would be funded directly from the public purse instead of through a Public Private Partnership.
“The Government’s new $15 billion rapid transit light rail programme for Auckland is also not listed in the update, even though Mr Robertson committed to it in a speech to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce on 11 December.
“When questioned in the House today, Mr Robertson tried to say Dunedin Hospital was included in the ‘Other Capital Cost Pressures’ fiscal risk on page 84 of the HYEFU document. However the description of that risk makes no mention of health capital projects or Dunedin Hospital.
“The Dunedin Hospital project is now of such materiality and at such a high level of likeliness to be funded by the Crown it should have been specifically included as a risk to the accounts. That applies even more so to the $15 billion of new light rail projects the Crown has publicly committed to.”
Mr Joyce says that it is important that these major projects be included in the Government’s primary fiscal documents.
“The Public Finance Act is clear that this sort of information needs to be included. To exclude it will lend weight to the impression that the Government’s update is an unrealistic representation of the future fiscal position of the Government. And that won’t boost consumer and business confidence.
“This is a serious matter that needs a proper and clear explanation from Mr Robertson.”