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Cullen $6.5 Billion Out-Of-Step With Treasury

Minister Of Finance $6.5 Billion Out-Of-Step With Treasury

Finance Minister Michael Cullen and Treasury Secretary Alan Bollard have today contradicted each other on the government's key fiscal target, National's Finance spokesman Bill English said today.

The Government has a target of government expenses at 35% of GDP. Dr Cullen today said the 35% target also includes billions of dollars to be contributed to the new superfund. However, Dr Bollard told the Finance & Expenditure Committee that the target, following generally accepted accounting practice (GAAP), did not include those contributions.

"The Minister of Finance and the Secretary of Treasury cannot agree on a fundamental pillar of good management of the government's accounts," Mr English said.

"Public accountability for taxpayers money depends on the government keeping the books open. The display today at the Finance & Expenditure Committee was disgraceful. It is unprecedented for the two senior fiscal managers to disagree over such a fundamental issue as the definition of government expenditure.

"Treasury uses a definition in accordance with well-established accounting rules designed to promote transparency. Dr Cullen's own personal definition is intended to avoid the embarrassment Labour would feel by announcing it had reduced its government spending target.

"Over the next four years, the difference between the two is $6.5 billion, almost as big as the whole health budget," Bill English said.


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