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Another tunnel vision budget for public services

16 May 2013

Another tunnel vision budget for public services

The government has produced another tunnel vision budget which continues to focus on squeezing the public sector to reach its arbitrary surplus target, according to the Public Service Association.

The government has announced $900 million in new spending in this year’s budget and says it is on track to reach a surplus in two years.

“It’s not a lot of money when you consider it’s about half of what the government spent bailing out South Canterbury Finance,” says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott.

“It’s also important to remember that much of the government’s spending comes from forced savings made through deep cuts to the public sector.”

“Those cuts have already cost more than 3000 public sector jobs over the past four years and with only modest increases to departmental baseline funding, there will be no let-up in the pressure on agencies to do more with less as they try and deliver on the government’s better public services programme.”

“Assurances are also needed that those departments involved in new housing and child poverty initiatives will be adequately resourced to take on those responsibilities,” Brenda Pilott says.

Delivering better public services within tight fiscal constraints is the Budget’s stated third priority.

“That’s already putting the public sector workforce under enormous pressure and is impacting on the quality of our public services. The latest Kiwi Counts survey which measures public satisfaction with public services has fallen for the first time and could mark the start of a downward trend.”

The PSA is also concerned that the government has no real plan in terms of its spending programme.

“We’ve just seen $158 million dollars suddenly being conjured up for tourism, then $20 million being redirected back towards DOC to offset the impact of its restructuring programme. It’s a scattergun approach which suggests the government can find money when it wants to.”

Essentially the government is still pursuing an austerity agenda when it comes to the public sector and public services to reach its surplus at all costs.

“International experience shows that austerity budgets do nothing to stimulate economies. Instead they push thousands out of work and widen the gap between rich and poor. We need policies that protect and create good jobs and don’t rely on cutting public services and spending,” says Brenda Pilott.


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