Holman: "Government does base its budget on 'speculation'..."

Last week, Finance Minister Colin Hansen announced what everyone had expected - the provincial government likely won't meet it's $495 million deficit target for fiscal 2009/10. But he rejected a suggestion he's been Pollyanish for standing by the target in the face of worsening financial news and forecasts. The reason: because, according to Minister Hansen, government bases its budget on "real numbers" and "real data" not "speculation." But that reasoning doesn't make sense.

Government does base its budget on "speculation" or what it calls "key assumptions" which, this year, included forecasting a "gradual increase" in commodity prices and an "anticipated recovery of US demand" for our exports. There have also been "real numbers" and "real data" released since February suggesting the Campbell administration would blow its budget - including a Statistics Canada report that British Columbia was already in a deficit in 2008, with our gross domestic product by 0.3 percent not the 1.3 percent growth estimated in the Liberals' recent budget. So what is Minister Hansen talking about?

I don't know. But what I do know is he should come up with a better answer for why government continue to spout sunny way rhetoric beneath overcast economic skies.

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