The province’s new Lieutenant Governor Frank Fagan will read/ deliver his first Speech from the Throne this afternoon.
The current democratically elected dictator’s plan for the upcoming year will be echoed in the House of Assembly. One can expect lots of talk of fiscal responsibility, of right sizing and of diversifying the economy to dampen the impacts of the global market place.
Last year, the Speech from the Throne laid the ground work for this year’s right sizing exercise. Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie spoke of the tightening fiscal situation. The government committed to a review of every program in government in light of anticipated reduced oil revenues and the end of federal payments under the Atlantic Accord.
Premier Dunderdale promised accountable, adaptable, responsive government. What we got was the most draconian freedom of information legislation in the country, the commissioning of the financially plagued Muskrat Falls deal and government that was more obsessed about it's performance in local polls than governing.
At the time many felt the government’s dire predictions of deficit and the need to reduce spending was a ploy to gain concessions from the public sector unions in a negotiating year. Interestingly enough, neither of the major unions negotiated a contract in the 2012-13 fiscal year.
A few weeks later the province announced it’s 2012-2013 budget entitled People and Prosperity: Responsible Investments for a Secure Future. The province irresponsibly forecasted that oil prices would average $120 (11%) higher than the year before. The finance minister at the time, Tom Marshall said he province would run deficits of $258.4 million for 2012-13 and $432.9 million for 2013-14.
It will be interesting to see if the new Minister of Finance still expects the province to return to a surplus of $44.3 million in 2014-15.
The 2013-14 budget will be tabled tomorrow.