NSW’s surprise surplus after $1bn budget error
Updated 1 hour 52 minutes ago
The Auditor-General has revealed that the New South Wales Government has made a $1 billion mistake in its sums, and the budget is actually in surplus.
Peter Achterstraat’s audit of the state’s finances found that data entry errors, mistakes in spreadsheets and poor reconciliations were responsible for much of the disparity in projections.
When the Treasurer Mike Baird delivered the budget in June, he forecast a deficit of $337 million.
But Mr Achterstraat says with the corrected figures, the budget is in surplus by $680 million.
He says the poor accounting is not acceptable.
“For a number of years I’ve been concerned about the quality of the financial accounts coming from the departments into Treasury and this year I guess I’m coming to the end of my tether,” he said.
“The forecasts need to be tightened up, the mistakes need to tightened up.
“The NSW Government is a billion-dollar business, it’s not a school tuck shop.”
The State Government delivered what it called a ‘tough’ budget in June, with $1.24 billion in cuts and thousands of job losses in the public sector.
The Auditor-General would not say whether he thought the mistakes were the result of a stretched public service, even though redundancy payments were five times that of the previous year.
But he says the Government may have made different budget decisions if it had the correct figures.
“It’s a bit like a cricket match – if you’ve got five overs to go and you think you only have to get X number of runs and all of a sudden you’re told you’ve got to get five times that, it’s very different,” he said.
Comment is being sought from the Treasurer.