Myers raises concern about $2-billion debt for P.E.I.

Teresa Wright
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Public accounts committee hears 2014 Auditor General's Report from auditor Jane MacAdam

Opposition Leader Steven Myers speaks Tuesday, June 24 at the public accounts committee hearing Auditor General Jane MacAdam's annual report.

P.E.I.’s net debt is trending in a concerning direction, according to the province’s auditor general, a phenomenon that Opposition Leader Steven Myers believes should alarm Islanders.

On Tuesday, Auditor General Jane MacAdam appeared before the provincial public accounts committee to go over the details of her 2014 Auditor General Report.

In it, she identifies trends involving the province’s net debt, which has ballooned to over $2-billion.

These trends show that in the last three years leading up to March 31, 2013, the province has been increasing the amounts it is pushing out into the future that it will have repay for today’s spending.

MacAdam points out in her report the province’s net debt is growing at a faster rate than the population.

“It’s an unfavourable trend,” MacAdam told the committee Tuesday.

“P.E.I. increased (net debt per capita) from the prior period, which it’s not trending in a favourable direction.”

Net debt is an important measure of the financial position of the province, the AG writes in her report.

It provides a measure of the amount of future revenue that will be required to pay for past operations.

Broken down per person in P.E.I., the net debt equates to over $14,000 per Islander.

That amount has been rising every year for the last three years.

Myers says the rate at which it is rising is unsustainable and will put taxpayers in a precarious situation in the years to come.

“Until they reach a state of balance, which I still contend they’ll never do, they won’t be able to make a payment on the debt, so we’re going to continue to see that trend upwards, which is something that should be alarming for all Islanders,” Myers said.

The auditor general also pointed out the province has been spending at a faster rate than the growth in the economy.

This is known as the debt to GDP ratio.

In 2013, P.E.I. had the largest increase in this ratio than Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and now has the largest debt to GDP ratio in the Maritimes.

Myers also pointed to the fact P.E.I. has also been increasing the amount of money it is taking out of the economy through taxes and user fees for provincial services.

The 2014 AG report shows this too has been increasing for the last three years.

“When you’re doing that to your economy, it’s next to impossible for your economy to grow,” Myers said.

“They can’t continue to tax, they have to come up with a way to reduce spending. We can’t say, ‘Yes we’re going to continue to spend exactly the way we’ve been spending, which is wild and free, and we’re going to make you pay more for it, we’re going to charge you more for your license, we’re going to put a new tax in, which they did with HST.’”

Finance Minister Wes Sheridan has repeatedly stated the province is on track to achieve a balanced budget in the 2015-16 fiscal year.

TWright@TheGuardian.pe.ca

 

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

 

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick

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  • Regular Joe
    Regular Joe
    June 25, 2014 - 17:39

    Everyone going on about how the Liberals are no worse then the Conservatives ,need to remember when the liberals took office there was a surplus in the budget . We are now over 2 billion in the hole . Now can anyone say how that happened considering user fees and taxes have increased dramatically since they took office . Services have been cut drastically Government payroll has been slashed with layoffs ,taxes are higher , the money certainly wasn't spent on job creation an we just keep getting more an more into the red . So who got it or were was it spent these are questions that need to be asked and answered before next election . Four more years like this and there will be no Island economy ,it will be nothing more then a sand bar in the ocean with lots of high paid politicians and poor starving people living here except for those in favor with the powers that be . Comon people just look at what has been done here in the past 7 years and think do I really want this to continue . Ministers that don't tell the whole truth and then hide behind the good ole confidential ruling to save their sorry asses .

  • Peter
    June 25, 2014 - 14:56

    Finance Minister Wes Sheridan has repeatedly stated the province is on track to achieve a balanced budget in the 2015-16 fiscal year. I think, If you're foolish enough to believe a word Wes Sheridan says, then you must be foolish enough to believe this: Send me $1 million, (in cash, small unmarked bills), and I'll transfer ownership of the Confed Bridge to you... tax free. Both my statement and Wes Sheridan's sound a unbelieveable, don't they?

  • It's Time
    June 25, 2014 - 12:07

    The NDP and the greens and anyone else better start working together. That may be the only hope for PEI. I'm afraid. I'm very afraid.

  • volunteer your salary
    June 25, 2014 - 11:26

    Myers is making $100,000 + a year as official opposition leader. Why doesn't he start by volunteering his salary back into the pot? Then get all 26 of his colleagues to do so as well. The state of New Hampshire pays its state legislators $200 a year. That's it. And they seem to have a pretty successful state economy and their state government seems to run pretty well. Why can't a small impoverished place with a declining tax base like PEI do this?

    • Because
      June 25, 2014 - 15:40

      Because were too damn stupid .

  • time for them to pay
    June 25, 2014 - 10:10

    If they can't keep a balanced budget EVER YEAR no matter who is in office.Then the should be fire on the spot.If they all run their household like this everything they own would be repossessed.Time to start cutting their pay for poor performance.

  • Chester L
    June 25, 2014 - 10:00

    The View From Martinvale, Chester L.................Simple solution 1. Cast your vote for the person and the party in that order 2. recommend to those seeking your vote for recall legislation so taxpayers can deal with ineffectual elected persons, remove them if they are not doing the job they were elected to do and ask for nominations......this will change the system, but it will take time.....that is my approach.;) thanks for the space provided 3. This is the only time the " taxpayer counts "

  • Shocked
    June 25, 2014 - 09:08

    Hey - people of PEI , this is shocking , $14,ooo per man women or child & spending & giving out grants & loans doesn't slow down . This group need's to be tarred & feathered for what they are doing to us & our children . Mind you - both parties are guilty as hell but the present one has gone overboard . What are we going to do about it , just move off Island or what ???????????????????????????? No wonder Harper doesn't want to meet with Ghiz & the B Sh****** Sheridan with his talk of balanced budget . This has got to be the worse government we ever had on PEI & we should realize it or enroll for kinder garden this fall . Myers & his group wouldn't be any better . Olive is our only hope if we could get her to fight again & save our bacon . Time to cut the waste & gravy & put this Island back on track & the only way I see is hard times & reduced spending or try & join NB & NS as one province . Really it's our choice to make . Bite the bullet or sink .

    • Garth Staples
      June 25, 2014 - 10:02

      Join NS and NB ? I've been calling for Maritime Union for over 5 years. It WILL happen although a senior employee at an news agency said it wouldn't. We shall see.

  • Good Grief
    June 25, 2014 - 09:08

    Myers trying to sound like a financial wizard - scary at best!!

    • Garth Staples
      June 25, 2014 - 12:23

      Join NS and NB ? I've been calling for Maritime Union for over 5 years. It WILL happen although a senior employee at an news agency said it wouldn't. We shall see.

  • Amazed at Amazed
    June 25, 2014 - 09:05

    That's it, continue this childish game of "oh well yes, we are totally mispending , but 9 years ago, you guys did too!". Great game plan for moving forward.

  • AMAZED
    June 25, 2014 - 02:51

    What was Myers opinion when Pat Binns and his yobs were turning Tory faithful into overnight millionaires !!! Did Myers run that through his calculation of PEIs net debt .

  • and watch
    June 24, 2014 - 22:39

    And watch it rising rising under another Ghiz uncaring Liberal govt...however, Myers you & Conservatives got to get your act together BIG TIME or else the island is totally screwed under another term of Ghiz Lib govt. Anyone who votes Liberal (and there are die hards) for this totally failed Ghiz govt should take the blame for PEI dying and that is what is slowly & lately zooming fast under this Ghiz Liberal govt.