Strong progress on fiscal strategy Mon 13 August 2012 Scott Bacon Minister for Finance The Tasmanian Government remains on track to meet its fiscal strategy targets and deliver a sustainable operating surplus by 2014-15, the Minister for Finance, Scott Bacon, said today. Mr Bacon said that the release of 2011-12 Preliminary Outcomes Report and the Progress Report on the 2011-12 Budget Savings Strategies for the June quarter has shown the Government is delivering on its pledge to return the state's finances to a sustainable footing. "We have been up front about the challenges facing our economy in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, and the loss of $1.8 billion in GST revenue and state taxation, and what we are doing to return the Budget to a sustainable position," he said. "These documents clearly show that we are making progress towards reaching our goals." Mr Bacon said the 2011-12 Net Operating Balance was expected to be a deficit of $138 million, which is comparable with the original 2011-12 Budget Estimate of a $114 million deficit and a significant improvement from the estimated outcome of a $289 million deficit presented in the 2012-13 Budget Papers. "Revenue exceeded the Budget forecasts for 2011-12 by $95 million - primarily due to additional Australian Government funding, including $66 million for the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement and $50 million for the Macquarie Point Railyards Remediation Project. "The overall deterioration of $24 million in the Net Operating Balance compared to the original Budget estimate primarily reflects additional costs necessary to meet demand pressures in the delivery of Health Care Services and Prison Services." Mr Bacon said that the improvement in the Government's underlying Net Operating Balance which removes the effect of major one-off revenue from the Commonwealth for capital projects had improved from an actual outcome of a $557 million deficit in 2010-11 to a Preliminary Outcome of a $300 million deficit. "The improvement in the underlying Net Operating Balance shows we are delivering on our commitment to return the Budget to surplus," he said. "We continue to remain Net Debt free, and the preliminary outcome of a surplus of $385 million is an improvement of $332 million from the original budget estimate. "The improvement is the result of the carry forward of funds committed for various projects, such as the Royal Hobart Hospital Redevelopment and the receipt of $104 million from the sale of TOTE Tasmania." Mr Bacon said that the final audited budget outcome for 2011-12 would be published in the Treasurer's Annual Financial Report by 31 October 2012. He said that the Budget Savings Strategies Progress Report for the June quarter has shown most agencies have achieved their required Budget Savings targets in 2011-12. "The report shows most agencies have achieved their Budget savings targets for 2011-12, but as we have previously indicated, some agencies faced challenges most notably the Department of Health and Human Services" he said. "As a result of the delay in finalising and implementing its Budget savings strategies, DHHS was provided with an additional $25 million through a supplementary appropriation during the year. At the end of the financial year, the Department had achieved its revised savings target." The June Progress report shows that agencies have reduced the size of the public sector by 945 FTEs or 3.7% since June 2011. "This is lower than the 1098 reduction reported in the March Report, primarily a result of seasonal changes in the number of FTEs reported by Education," he said. "However, it's important to note, the Department of Education's employment numbers are subject to seasonal variation across the school year and are affected by casual, temporary and fixed term employment on a school term basis. Nearly all other agencies continue to show decreases in employment numbers." Mr Bacon said that the progress shown in both Reports indicated that the Government was on track to achieve its Fiscal Strategy targets by 2014-15. "The 2012-13 Budget projects that by 2014-15, Tasmania will be the only State to be Net Debt free and delivering a sustainable operating surplus. While there still has is a long way to go to, these Reports show that the Government is making good progress towards achieving that." he said. Copies of both reports can be found at www.treasury.tas.gov.au.