12 Apr 2011

Govt determined to get books back into surplus

6:20 pm on 12 April 2011

Finance Minister Bill English says the Government is intent on returning its books to surplus as soon as possible.

In a speech ahead of the Budget in May, Mr English put the cost of the Canterbury earthquakes in September 2010 and February to the Government at $8.5 billion over the next few years.

A total of $5.5 billion will be factored in to the Budget to help rebuild Christchurch following the quake on 22 February.

Of that, $2.5 billion is earmarked for decisions yet to be made, with the biggest cost likely to be restoring land damaged in the February quake.

A further $3 billion is for costs to the Earthquake Commission.

Mr English says finance company collapses and the potential support for AMI policyholders also come at a cost to the taxpayer this year.

However, he says it is important not to over-react and the Government will set out its plan to return the books to surplus in the Budget.

Mr English would not put a date on when he expected the Government's books to be back in surplus.

In December last year, the Treasury predicted a return to surplus in 2014-15, but Mr English said in March it would probably be pushed out a year to 2015-16.