THE Government is viewing the future with optimism and confidence as it tables the 2018 national budget in Parliament today on the back of an “improving global economy”, with commodity prices returning to “healthier” levels.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, however, warned that while pressure on the economy from global factors is easing, the government would continue to ensure fiscal discipline is maintained. “There is no doubt that we are seeing improvements in the global economy, and this is reflected in positive indicators in our own economy,” he said.
“Commodity prices are returning to healthier levels but there is still a long way to go before we can relax.
“When global conditions were at their lowest, our government managed the challenges we faced and this has placed us in a stronger position today.
“We continued to maintain positive economic growth through a programme of reducing spending, managing expenses and rescheduling some infrastructure construction.”
Treasurer Charles Abel will table the national financial plan this afternoon.
Debate on it will be suspended until Tuesday next week to allow the Opposition time to respond to it. O’Neill said the government was looking forward to a sensible debate on the budget “that is based on fact and not misinformation”.
He said there would be no cuts to education and healthcare, “our core national priorities”.
He also promised “a productive and safe Apec summit in 2018 through modest expenditure that builds capacity and leaves legacy in our government agencies”.
“Our Government will also continue to build more efficient public services that are increasingly capable while being less expensive to operate,” he said.
Shadow Treasury and Finance Minister Ian Ling-Stuckey said the Opposition was ready to debate the 12-month financial plan from the government.
“Last year, the Government did not allow a proper debate on the 2017 budget. We stand ready to judge the success of the 2018 budget and urge government to give the Opposition an opportunity to measure its merits,” he said.
He said they would judge the budget on its credibility, how the government planned to spend public money, how it addressed foreign exchange and jobs, how it dealt with deficits and debt financing, and whether it followed proper processes.