5 Apr 2011

Government deficit jumps to $9.2bn

7:22 am on 5 April 2011

The Government's operating deficit has grown, in part because it expects to recover less money from the retail deposit guarantee.

The Government recorded an operating deficit of $9.2 billion for the eight months to the end of February, nearly $1.7 billion higher than forecast.

That includes an initial $1.5 billion cost of the Christchurch earthquake.

The Earthquake Commision faces $800 million in claims. The Government has spent $175 million on assistance.

Separately, the Treasury expects $9 billion to flow in from foreign reinsurers, so local insurers can settle quake claims.

In its latest set of forecasts, the Government's economic advisor says that inflow would push the current account balance into surplus for the first time in 37 years.

The March accounts will include the initial estimates of the value of reinsurance claims from February's earthquake, thought to be around $6 billion.

Meanwhile, Treasury says it's still too early to confirm the true cost of the quakes, and it's sticking to its earlier estimate of 15 billion dollars.

Revenue is 2% lower than forecast partly because of lower interest and dividend income, while expenses fell by 0.6%.

South Canterbury Finance

The figures also include an increase of $331 million in expected losses from the retail deposit guarantee.

Finance Minister Bill English says most of that is due to the receivers not getting as much back as expected from South Canterbury Finance.

The guarantee is now expected to cost $1.2 billion, compared with previous estimates of about $900 million.