12 Oct 2011

Expect further cuts to public spending - English

8:32 am on 12 October 2011

Finance Minister Bill English says that if the National Party forms the next government, the public can expect further spending cuts.

The latest Treasury figures show a record deficit of $18.4 billion for the year to the end of June.

Earthquake-related costs account for about $9 billion of that, but general spending also rose by $4.5 billion.

Because of the Government's tax changes last October, when personal rates were cut and GST was increased, there is about $1 billion less in income than there otherwise would have been.

Mr English says he is confident the Government can return to surplus by 2014-15, but more cuts will have to be made in order for that to happen.

Call to revisit roads plan, tax cuts

The Green Party says the Government could significantly reduce the deficit blowout in two ways.

Co-leader Russel Norman says no analysis has been done to prove that the "roads of national significance" programme makes economic sense; and some tax cuts could be reversed, he says, because "we're giving about $2 billion a year to to the top 10% of income-earners".

ACT leader Don Brash acknowledges the Canterbury earthquakes have been a major contributor to the deficit, but says spending is still too high.

In the past, Dr Brash has questioned the economic wisdom of interest-free loans, Working for Families and retaining all but a few state state-owned assets.

But he says now that he is reluctant to start talking about bottom lines if ACT and National are able to do a deal after the election.