Citing favorable conditions and a general mood of optimism, Treasury officials are upbeat about their own prospects according to forecasts in the Budget Policy Statement released earlier this week.
Although the department’s forecasters have once again revised back their predictions of economic growth and positive terms of trade – pointing to the gloomy prospect of global recession triggered by the debt crisis in Europe – they remain extremely positive about their own departmental appropriations, raising expectations that this year will see yet another record increase in Treasury funding.
The introduction to the policy statement states, ‘Treasury has taken a very hard line about waste and expenditure in the public service and has been a driving force behind the down-sizing of over 2500 jobs in the public service. This hard work has yielded significant dividends, with taxpayer funding to Treasury increasing by over twenty-three million dollars in just three years, a spectacular 37% increase, bringing the total funding to eighty-three million dollars.’
A spokesperson for the department explained, ‘This is all the more impressive when you consider the dire economic conditions prevailing during this period. We expect this trend to continue and even accelerate over the medium term, especially if our forecasts continue to predict that the government’s policies will lead to robust economic growth. Our models indicate that our 2010 budget forecast of 3.2% growth, when the actual rate was barely 1% played a key role.’
‘Increased funding will go towards recruiting additional staff. Our motto is: ‘Do more with more.’ Current staff will continue to receive salary increases and ongoing training to improve their performance, measures which are vital to improving productivity amongst Treasury analysts, but absolutely useless when implemented in any other aspect of the public service.’
Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf has warned the department against complacency. ‘If we are to continue to capitalise on our recent successes and grow Treasury at an optimum rate, we must be inaccurate about all key economic indicators in ways that are advantageous to the current government. Simply getting the deficit forecast wrong by six billion dollars in an election year is no longer enough.’
But Makhlouf shares the overall optimism about his departments’ prospects. ‘If Treasury is to continue to scale back the public service and reduce inefficiencies in government expenditure, then significant, ongoing expansion of this department is vital. Failure to give ourselves yet another huge funding increase would be a form of false economy.’