August 14, 2022

La Ronge Northerner

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Minister Girard’s failed predictions

Can’t say Finance Minister Eric Girard has a compass in his eye!

When Minister Girard presents his 2021-2022 budget in March 2021, he plans to end the fiscal year with a deficit of $9.2 billion before transferring money to the Generation Fund.

Results? He finally ended the 2021-2022 fiscal year with — get this — a budget surplus of $3.32 billion. That leaves a “bad” break on the $12.5 billion budget!

How did this come about?

In terms of revenue, the Legault government has $16.8 billion in additional revenue in 2021-2022 compared to Minister Girard’s initial projections. This was 13.7% higher than expected. Let’s agree that this is a “liberal” distinction in favor of the Legault government.

This revenue surplus includes $13.3 billion in additional revenue and an additional federal transfer amount of $2.24 billion.

On the government expenditure side, additional expenditure (portfolios, anti-Covid-19 measures) is about $4.27 billion, compared to budget projections.

Minister Eric Girard attributed the improvement in Quebec’s fiscal situation to a strong economic recovery in the province.

2020-2021 failure

This is not the first time Minister Girard has failed in his budget projections. May I remind you that his 2020-2021 budget expired within days of its presentation.

When he presented his budget on March 10, 2020, Girard ignored the pandemic that had begun to wreak havoc in Quebec. It is expected to end the fiscal year with a surplus of $2.7 billion (before transferring money to the Generation Fund).

He and the Bhikkhus of the Finance Ministry had to be cut off from reality. Because three days later, François Legault triggered a health emergency and the shutdown of many sectors of the economy.

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Minister Girard was forced to redo his classes, and he tabled a budget update three months later, in which he this time wanted to end the 2020-2021 fiscal year with a deficit of $12.4 billion.

Finally, it ended the 2020-2021 fiscal year with a deficit of $4.2 billion, or $8.2 billion less than its revised forecast!

Current year…

As part of the 2022-2023 budget tabled last March, the Legault government’s treasurer projected a deficit of about $3 billion.

It is a safe bet that Minister Girard has again underestimated his revenue projections. He predicts that total revenue for the 2022-2023 fiscal year will be $138.5 billion, or nearly $1 billion less than the revenue collected in 2021-2022!

Can’t wait to see the pre-election report on the state of Quebec’s public finances, which will be released in mid-August in light of the upcoming election campaign.