Surplus plan welcome, fiscal discipline needed

08 March, 2017

The Western Australian business community has welcomed the Liberal Party’s commitment to return the budget to surplus as outlined in costings, released by Treasury today.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia (CCI) Chief Economist Rick Newnham said reining in spending will be critical to fixing the budget deficit, reducing debt, regaining WA’s AAA credit rating and boosting the state’s investment reputation, whoever wins Saturday’s election.

“Returning to surplus and reducing debt will require fiscal discipline,” Mr Newnham said.

“Today’s costings show the Liberal Party has identified savings and spending restraint that would, if implemented, return the budget to surplus by 2019-20 – CCI has long called for the State Government to find further efficiencies and rein in spending."

“WA has a critical cash problem and when you have limited taxpayer dollars to spend, no area of state expenditure should escape rigorous scrutiny – this means finding savings, reining in spending and reallocating funds across government.

“Treasury’s costings independently confirm that the partial sale of Western Power and other assets could be critical in reducing debt and improving the state’s financial position. This, combined with comments made by ACCC Chairman Rod Sims’ earlier this week, should clearly illustrate that selling Western Power is both good for the budget and good for consumers.

“It was estimated by Treasury today that a Liberal Government would see net debt reduced by $12.3 billion by 2019-20, which would bring debt down from $41.1 billion to $28.8 billion.

“While such a commitment is welcomed, CCI notes that significant and sustained discipline in financial management will be necessary throughout the next term of government to put us on a path to regaining the AAA credit rating.

“CCI and the business community encourage WA Labor to commit to and deliver the same level of fiscal discipline, should they form the next State Government.”

Media contact: Kate Hodges – 0448 928 227