Libs carryover $30 million from 2017 and slash 2018 capital spending by 10% or $30 million.
The Official Opposition is accusing the government of withholding capital spending dollars to drive down the deficit. The Liberals are committing $280 million in capital expenditures for this year, a ten percent decrease from last year and a carry-over of $30 million from 2017.
Yukon Party Interim Leader Stacey Hassard (Pelly-Nisutlin) quizzed the Premier/Finance Minister on why the carry-over. “The Premier left $30 million of the capital spending he promised in last year’s budget unspent. The Premier predicts that he will end the fiscal year with a $6.3-million surplus. If the Premier had lived up to his promise and spent all of the capital money, Yukon would have had a $23-million deficit, but you will remember that last year’s budget said there would be a surplus even if Yukon had spent that extra $30 million in infrastructure money. Can the Premier explain why last year’s budget was $30 million off and was this what he did in order to ensure that there was a surplus — cutting back capital spending?”
Silver (Klondike) stated the large forecasts and eventual higher carry-overs by the previous government was a major issue brought by forward by the industry. “Every year, the Yukon Party would put out these large forecasts. We know that that is an issue. We have talked with industry. We want to make sure — and these conversations had not been had before with municipalities, with industry and with First Nation governments as they put out major contracts as well to try to see how we can pivot and change and make sure that we accommodate so that the GDP gets affected better. We are going to continue that dialogue. We believe that the $30 million, if that is the number that the opposition is focusing in on, again, is a lot better discrepancy than $100 million from the previous government.”
Silver conceded the $280 million earmarked this year for capital may be too ambitious and that further talks with the private sector are needed to accurately forecast what can actually be spent. “The record of any capital budget was $235 million or around that, which was actually able to be spent. So really, if the forecasts are over $300 million or at $280 million, what this government needs to do across party lines is work with the private sector, work with the other governments, and make sure that what we are actually saying that can get out the door really reflects the ability of the contractors that are in Yukon and making sure that we can keep that GDP here in Yukon.”
If $280 million is too high, expect Yukon to continue the hefty carry-overs last the capital budget is expect to climb over the next two years to $293.375 million, before dropping to $263.5 million 2022-23.
(Dan Jones March 5, 2018)