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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

b.c. has deficit accountability.

As far as I know, Alberta's anti-deficit law, the Fiscal Responsibility Act, has no accountability enforcement mechanism, so I was surprised to learn that British Columbia's Balanced Budget and Ministerial Accountability Act does:

...cabinet ministers and Premier will still lose 10 per cent of their ministerial salaries, the penalty prescribed by the balanced-budget law. For the Premier, that's roughly $9,000 of his salary next year, while his cabinet ministers will pay a penalty of about $5,000. (Globe & Mail)

Both Alberta and BC are set to run deficit budgets (although Alberta will be running a 'technical deficit' while dipping into the province's Sustainability Fund).

I should also note that I have a hard time believing Alberta's anti-deficit laws are much more than legislated political spin (and even more so if there is no accountability mechanism).


Denny said...

But Gordon Campbell is asking the legislature to suspend the legislation, which I'm assuming means the penalties would not apply when they run a deficit with this year's budget.
This makes it seem like fairly useless legislation, especially in the case of a majority government who can simply suspend the legislation when need be.

Simon said...

The entire idea behind deficit legislation is *ridiculous* for exactly this reason. I wonder how they are going to do this? It seems to me they're going to have to introduce an actual law to get around the prohibition on deficits. Can they legislate around the deficit prohibition while not legislating around the penalties?
These things are ridiculous.

Denny said...

I think the penalties thing actually applies when a ministry runs a deficit in comparison to what they had budgeted. If the entire province runs a deficit and it's budgeted rather than the ministry just going over budget I don't think the minister actually ends up getting fined.

The language I saw Gordon Campbell use earlier this week was "suspend" rather than "repeal" the legislation. I don't know if that will make a difference in how they go about implementing it or not.