The Opposition Tories once again raised concerns today over a $25 million payment the province received as part of transition funding for bringing in the HST.
The province received the money in 2012-13 as a first installment of a total $39 million in funding to help the province roll out the HST.
The amount was accounted for as revenue in the 2012-13 fiscal year, but in February the finance department removed it from that year’s revenue on the advice of the auditor general.
The auditor general advised that a recent change in accounting rules dictates all $39 million should be accounted for in the year the HST was implemented — the 2013-14 fiscal year.
During question period Thursday, Myers said Finance Minister Wes Sheridan knew this accounting rule change was coming when he prepared his budget in 2012-13 and deliberately booked the $25 million in that year to make his deficit look better.
“For one entire year this rule was in place prior to the HST,” Myers said.
“Will you admit that the only reason you put the $25 million in the book was to make your treasurer, who can’t do any decent math with the books, look good?”
Premier Robert Ghiz said when the agreement was signed with the federal government to adopt the HST, that agreement included two payments for transitional funding staggered over a two-year period.
“Will you admit that the only reason you put the $25 million in the book was to make your treasurer, who can’t do any decent math with the books, look good?” Opposition Leader Steven Myers
The money was budgeted accordingly. It was not until the auditor general told them it had to be accounted for altogether in the following fiscal that the change was made, Ghiz said.
“Numbers change all the time and the important part is that we listened to the auditor general, and that’s exactly what we did.”
He was critical of the Opposition’s line of questioning, suggesting the media is asking better questions.
“I think the media is understanding this issue better than the leader of the Opposition,” Ghiz said.
“I was reading on Twitter today that the real question that should be asked here is how did the government meet their budget targets if we took $25 million out of the year 2012-2013. That is the question the leader of the Opposition should be asking.”
According to the province's audited financial statements, the province brought in increases of $14.6 million in personal income tax and $10.1 million in corporate income tax in the 2012-13 fiscal year.