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Doesn't Cullen understand current expenditure

Gordon Copeland

Thursday, 8th November 2007

Doesn't Cullen understand difference between current expenditure and investment?

Independent MP Gordon Copeland today said that he is fast coming to the conclusion that Finance Minister Michael Cullen does not understand the difference between current expenditure such as the cost of nurse's salaries, and investment expenditure, in say the construction of a new hospital.

"How else do I explain the confused answers I receive from the Minister when I ask him straightforward questions around that issue," said Mr Copeland.

"Today, for example, I asked him is he 'agrees that tax cuts can be funded from expenditure reduction, including alternative private sector funding mechanisms, or the utilisation of the Crown's exceptionally strong balance sheet to finance a higher proportion of capital expenditure in schools and hospitals etc. through inter-generational debt or asset sales if these actions improve cash surpluses?"

"The short answer is of course 'yes', but the Minister, for the second time in recent weeks, banged on about how irresponsible if would be to sell assets to fund current consumption."

"He's right of course, but that was not the question I asked. Either his agenda is simply to dodge the hard questions or he genuinely does not understand the difference between current consumption and long term investment in schools and hospitals which last for 50-80 years!"

"I suggest Dr Cullen has a wee chat with the Treasury!"


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