Queensland’s improving labor market will save the budget from building a $ 130 billion debt bomb and save the state from hitting another record deficit this year.
Treasurer Cameron Dick announced the good news ahead of the budget on Tuesday that thanks to the recovery of Covid in Queensland and improved revenues, neither deficit nor debt will be as bad as forecast in December.
Queensland ended 2019-20 with a deficit of $ 5.734 billion, which should climb to $ 8.633 billion this year, as total debt appeared to climb to $ 130 billion by 2023-24.
Mr Dick did not want to confirm the improved numbers yesterday but said this year’s deficit is now much smaller than forecast.
“We had forecast this year and last year, 2020-21 and 2021-22, would be the biggest deficits in Queensland history,” he told the Sunday Mail.
“While the deficit in 2019-20 will remain the largest, the deficit for 2020-21 will now be significantly smaller.
“As our economy has improved, the need for increased debt has decreased, so we have been able to achieve this smaller deficit and debt burden without cutting services, without laying off public servants, and without selling public assets.
Capital spending will also decrease, but the treasurer said there would still be significant investments in health, education, housing and infrastructure.
“But the budget is still in a deficit position and we will continue to monitor every dollar to minimize borrowing,” he said, warning of continued volatility.
“Circumstances have changed in just six months since the budget was released, but there is an underlying volatility that will continue with Covid that was demonstrated this week by the cases we saw on the Sunshine Coast,” said he.
He said unemployment would be “lower than forecasted in December and falling more than forecast,” although he did not confirm how much better.
The December budget projected unemployment at 7 percent for the next year before falling and hovering at 6.5 percent for the next two years.
Meanwhile, $ 460 million will be invested in professional skills, training and a support program for companies hiring the unemployed.
Funding will cover $ 320 million to continue the government’s Skilling Queenslanders for Work program and $ 140 million for a revitalized Back to Work program.
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