11 Oct 2012

Finance Minister confident of hitting surplus target

10:20 am on 11 October 2012

Finance Minister Bill English remains confident the Government's books can get back to surplus in 2014/15, as long as world economic conditions don't worsen.

The Government has halved its operating deficit, excluding gains and losses, to $9.2 billion in the year to the end of June.

Mr English says this result has come as no surprise. The Government achieved all it set out to do in the last financial year and it remains committed to getting its books back into surplus by its target, he says.

But the Finance Minister says while the Government can control its spending, it has less control over revenue.

Tax income was up was up $3.5 billion in the year to the end of June, but that could change if economic conditions in Europe and Asia get worse.

Infometrics economist Benje Patterson says the Government's target is an arbitrary goal.

Mr Patterson says it's going to be a lot more difficult for the Government to cut spending, while the slowing global economy will weigh on growth and tax revenue.

"We've got a less optimistic view on how things such as the (Canterbury) rebuild are going to flow through into the domestic economy.

"We think that the slowing world economy and its impact on commodity prices will dampen private investment and spending decisions slightly."

Mr Patterson still expects growth, but is slightly more pessimistic than the Treasury.