WA Budget Brief
In handing down his third WA State Budget, Treasurer Mike Nahan re-highlighted the significant challenge facing WA public finances.
With the State’s net operating position in unprecedented deficit over the forward estimates, the Treasurer was circumspect on the ability to get the State’s fiscal house in order. Expenditure growth has been brought under control this year, but further improvement will be challenging. The State is largely relying on a handful of previously announced measures.
- While there has been some improvement in the current year’s financial position, the 2016-17 forecast deficit has blown out to $3.9bn (from $1.1bn previously). The red pen has been liberally applied to the remainder of the forward estimates
- Net public sector debt has deteriorated significantly in the 2016-17 Budget. Net debt is now not projected to peak over the forward estimates period, with 2018-19 public sector net debt expected to be $5bn higher than previously forecast – this is on top of a $5bn jump in last year’s budget
- To its credit, the State Government has made good on its promise to control general government expenditure as a response to its revenue crisis in this year. The State’s estimated actual spending for the 2015-16 financial year is some $1.4bn lower than estimated in the 2014-15 Budget
- A rebound in GST revenue is very much the superhero of the State’s revenue outlook over the next four years. WA’s GST allocation is forecast to add $4.1bn to the budget bottom line over the forward estimates – or 68% of forecast total revenue growth. In comparison, total State taxation revenue is expected to rise by just $1bn over the same period and royalty revenue a meagre $280m.