Is it nec­es­sary?

The Southern Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

Mark it on your cal­en­dar, be­cause you know it’s com­ing - for all it’s worth.

Ac­tu­ally, for some in the prov­ince if you’re read­ing this, you’re al­ready too late as it has passed you by and you missed out on a lot­tery-win­ning ex­pe­ri­ence. Or did you? Yes, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tom Mar­shall has once again em­barked on his se­ries of cross-prov­ince con­sul­ta­tion ses­sions with peo­ple who fol­low the fi­nan­cial state of af­fairs in New­found­land and Labrador.

Premier Kathy Dun­derdale’s gov­ern­ment is hard at work piec­ing to­gether the 2012-13 bud­get to un­veil to the peo­ple of the prov­ince later this spring.

How­ever, be­fore she dots all the Is and crosses all the Ts, she wants to know how the peo­ple of the prov­ince would like gov­ern­ment to spend their tax dol­lars.

This is not a new ex­er­cise for what­ever gov­ern­ment is sit­ting in power in the prov­ince, and es­pe­cially not for Min­is­ter Mar­shall, who must en­joy his an­nual jaunt around the prov­ince as sort of a hol­i­day. How­ever, those hop­ing for that post-christ­mas fi­nan­cial gift, it’s the same old song and dance.

It’s also get­ting mun­dane to know the prov­ince ex­pects to have in hand a ma­jor pile of cash - pro­jected sur­plus for 2011-12 was re­vised in Novem­ber to $755.8 mil­lion, up from the $59.1 mil­lion that was pro­jected in April - head­ing into the pre-bud­get, but al­ready says it gone to re­duce the prov­ince’s net debt.

If only past fi­nance min­is­ters had the money Min­is­ter Mar­shall has to play with each year, maybe the needs and re­quests wouldn’t be so great - or repet­i­tive.

Just think back to the early 2000s, when Loy­ola Sul­li­van was mak­ing his rounds across the prov­ince, and he care­fully, but em­phat­i­cally, spelled out the prov­ince’s des­per­ate fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion to all who would lis­ten.

In those days, noth­ing ever be­came of the sug­ges­tions - log­i­cal, des­per­ately needed, or just plain out of touch as they may have been - Min­is­ter Sul­li­van re­ceived be­cause his hands were tied try­ing to man­age the deficit.

Given the im­proved fi­nan­cial state and eco­nomic sta­tus of the prov­ince over 10 years ago, one would think Min­is­ter Mar­shall would be in a far bet­ter po­si­tion to say: “This year we have some ex­tra money and we’re go­ing to spend it on you - our faith­ful fol­low­ers.” There’s no ar­gu­ing $755.8 mil­lion, and don’t most peo­ple live in to­day and worry about the fu­ture when it be­comes the present.

The fact is, just like Min­is­ter Sul­li­van, even though a lit­tle more forth­com­ing, Min­is­ter Mar­shall has al­ready said the money will be put to­wards the deficit.

So ex­pect the same as you go to the pre-bud­get con­sul­ta­tions, Min­is­ter Mar­shall may also only be po­litely lis­ten­ing, and even though he may even be some­what in­ter­ested, there are no plans to in­fuse the up­com­ing bud­get with any ad­di­tional cash other than what gov­ern­ment al­ready has in its mind.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.