NT budget expected to reveal more debt | Liverpool City Champion
The Northern Territory is likely to have slipped further into the red, as Chief Minister Michael Gunner prepares to present his third budget as Treasurer.
The latest Top End budget revealed a deficit of $1.35 billion with a net debt of $9 billion in 2021/22, equivalent to 122% of revenue.
This situation is expected to deteriorate further in 2022/23, with net debt reaching $10.1 billion, or 146% of revenue, with a deficit of $1.21 billion.
It is then expected to climb to $10.8 billion, or 155% of revenue, by 2024/25, but the deficit is expected to fall to $807 million.
The situation would have been worse had it not been for a massive increase in NT’s national GST revenue forecast last May, which should hasten its economic recovery.
Overall, NT’s position improved by $1 billion in the last budget from the projected deficit of $1.7 billion with a net debt of $10.1 billion for 2021/22.
The larger than expected GST cut was linked to Australia’s rapid economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Northern Territories unemployment rate rose 1.4% to 4.1% in March, which was the third highest seasonally adjusted rate in the country.
Charles Darwin University economist Rolf Gerritsen said the Northern Territories economy is growing slowly and the economic situation will remain bleak for some time “unless there is some control. on expenses”.
“It will be a sustaining budget and will likely have elements designed to help Federal Labor win Lingiari’s seat and, to a lesser extent, Solomon’s,” he told AFP. ‘APA.
“You can expect sweeteners in the backcountry, but whether the money is spent is another matter.”
Professor Gerritsen said there is unlikely to be revenue growth, but spending may have increased from last financial year.
“The number to watch is civil service spending, whether or not they can try to get it under control,” he said.
A 2019 budget strategy report warned the NT was heading for $35 billion in debt by 2030 unless the government tackles chronic overspending.
One of the key recommendations was to cap growth in the 20,000 strong civil service, prompting the Northern Territories government to introduce a four-year wage freeze in November 2020.
The Gunner administration has already announced several of Tuesday’s budget measures, including $510 million in funding for the territory’s police force, up $6.4 million from last year’s police budget.
The budget will also include $690 million for remote housing to help reduce chronic overcrowding in Indigenous communities.
The territory’s Labor government has also allocated $86.4 million with the aim of attracting domestic and international tourists and hospitality workers to the Northern Territory.
“With key sectors coming back online, including airline partners, the cruise sector, … we want people to come to the territory to reconnect and enjoy our beautiful landscapes,” the Minister for Major Events and of Tourism, Natasha Fyles.
“The 2022/23 budget sends a strong message that we are open for business.”
Heath will receive $2 billion, including $8 million for additional capacity at the Royal Darwin Hospital and $60 million to address COVID-19 pressures in the public health sector.
An additional $113.1 million will be allocated to sealing, strengthening and widening strategically important roads.
Major projects include an $86 million Tanami Road upgrade to Western Australia and $104 million for the gas industry road upgrade.
More than $80 million will be allocated for works between Alice Springs and Darwin along the Stuart Highway.
Australian Associated Press