20 Feb 2013

Government deficit slightly lower than forecast

10:12 pm on 20 February 2013

The Government recorded a deficit of $3.191 billion in the first six months of the financial year, slightly lower than was forecast in December.

Once gains from the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and ACC are taken into account, the Government recorded a surplus of $1.7 billion compared with a forecast deficit.

The Treasury said tax revenue was close to forecast in the six months, but spending was $273 million lower.

Net debt was also lower than predicted at $59.1 billion.

The Government expects to return to surplus in the June 2015 financial year but economists say that is unlikely, given a weak global recovery.

The Green Party says the collapse of the Emissions Trading Scheme helped improve the Government's books.

Co-leader Russel Norman says the collapse in carbon prices meant the Government issued fewer units at lower prices, saving it $200 million, compared with the same period the previous year.

"That means the Government's books will artificially look good. But of course in the real world - the world where climate change is a reality - things are bad, very bad indeed."