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Opening Of The Books Crunch Time For Party Policy

Treasurer Bill English said this week's pre-election opening of the books was crunch time for political parties and their spending promises.

"On Thursday we'll see exactly where the country's finances are at and find out what the Treasury is forecasting for the next three years.

"The Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Update (PREFU) will set the benchmark against which all political promises can be measured.

"The way the system works means that everything the National-led Government has committed to, like the tax reductions and health spending, has been factored in. Options we have considered that have been costed but not finalised will be there as costed risks, and even options that we've only thought about will be there as uncosted risks.

"Other parties, on the other hand, are starting to run away with their promises and it's time to ask the hard questions about how they will pay for them. Jim Anderton is right when he says that Labour is trying to avoid costing its promises.

"Labour is running two lists. The 'A' list is the credit card policies that have been costed, which will be financed by tax increases, and which Dr Cullen will admit to. The 'B' list is the promises that his colleagues have been making and which have not been costed or factored in. Tax deductibility for Research & Development costs and reversing the ACC changes are just two examples. The 'B' list will be financed by new taxes or higher taxes.

"At least voters know where they stand with the Alliance - there will be more Government spending paid for with tax increases. Dr Cullen is trying to be too clever by half by saying that only those promises he chooses need to be costed. The pre-election update sets the standard expected of a government. Dr Cullen and Labour have fallen short," said Mr English.


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