16 Feb 2012

Govt misled voters - Greens

5:55 pm on 16 February 2012

The Green Party says the Budget Policy Statement confirms the Government misled voters before the election about the gains it will make from selling shares in state-owned companies.

The Budget Policy Statement predicts the sale of shares in four energy companies and Air New Zealand will make $6 billion.

But Mr English says that is not even a best guess, it is just a guess.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says he is shocked given Mr English went into the election telling voters these were quite accurate figures.

Budget surplus predicted

The Government expects its Budget surplus in 2014-15 to be $370 million. But further economic shocks could turn that into a deficit.

The statement says the Government is firmly committed to getting back into surplus in the 2014-15 financial year and projects a surplus of $2.2 billion in 2015-16.

But if the economy is hit by a severe negative shock, the Statement says the Government would have to consider whether sticking to the surplus target would do more harm than good.

However, Finance Minister Bill English does not think the Government will have to change its target.

Radio New Zealand's political editor says the Budget Policy Statement also reveals the Government expects to make $6 billion from the sale of shares in Mighty River Power, Genesis Energy, Solid Energy, Meridian Energy and Air New Zealand.

But Mr English says not too much should be read into that figure. He says the Government will not know how much it will get until shares in the companies are sold.

Mr English says strong export prices and the Canterbury rebuild are expected to help the economy grow through to 2016.

And unemployment is forecast to fall to 4.6% by then.