Friday, August 04, 2006

Sask: Yet another lie

The government just posted a news release boasting their latest credit rating improvement from Standard & Poors, which is fine.

But once again they are perpetuating a lie.

This is the fifth credit rating upgrade for the province under PremierCalvert's leadership, arriving just four months after Finance Minister AndrewThomson delivered Saskatchewan's 13th consecutive balanced budget.

The reality is that, since Calvert took over, there have been more deficit budgets than surplus. The Provincial Auditor lays it out in his 2005 Volume 2 report. Calvert became Premier in February, 2001. His first full budget cycle (2001-02) saw a $483 million deficit. In 2003, he managed to increase the deficit to $654 million. In 2004, when oil prices saved the day, the deficit was reduced to $100 million. In 2005 there was surplus, and you can bet the auditor will show another surplus this year.

Bottom line: Calvert racked up massive deficits for three years before he turned a surplus. They tell the "13 consecutive balanced budgets" lie with a straight face because of the "fiscal stablization fund." Funny thing about that fund -- there is no fund. Unlike Alberta, there is no actual account with money in it that can be used for a rainy day. When the government "withdraws" money from the "fund" the government debt goes up by the exact same amount.

I wonder how they can say the budget is balanced, and then turn around and sell government debt bonds the next day. I'm more shocked they don't get called on it by anyone in the media.

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