The release of the Revised Estimates Report 2020-21 confirms our economic recovery is well underway in Tasmania.
When compared to the 2020-21 Budget released in November last year, our economy and employment levels have both recovered more quickly than forecast.
Almost 80 per cent of Tasmanians have now returned to work since the height of the pandemic in May 2020 and our participation rate has returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Whereas the 2020-21 Budget anticipated an unemployment rate of 8½ per cent this year, the Midyear Review now forecasts 7 per cent unemployment in year-average terms, and employment is forecast to continue growing.
As Tasmanians return to work, our economy is now expected to grow this year rather than contract. Increasing economic activity is underpinned by growing consumer and business confidence, retail trade, and housing investment across the State supported by our successful HomeBuilder program. Dwelling approvals are at unprecedented levels, and in December were the highest since the series began nearly forty years ago.
A stronger economy strengthens our budget, through increased revenues, including GST receipts and state revenues including conveyance duty. Compared to the Budget, the Net Operating Balance this year is estimated to have improved by $157.3 million and Net Debt is also expected to be around $150 million lower.
The 2020-21 Budget is our plan for economic recovery and includes an ambitious and landmark $5 billion infrastructure program across the next four years that will support around 25,000 jobs.
Given the extraordinary activity in our building and construction sector, including through the HomeBuilder grants scheme, we have a very busy market, and our plan is doing exactly what we need it to – underpinning confidence and providing a strong pipeline and foundation for economic growth over the next four years. The Report identifies a number of risks for infrastructure delivery, however, it is pleasing to see that despite the pandemic, year-to-December infrastructure expenditure has been 10.4 per cent higher than this time last year.
Once again, the report demonstrates that our recovery is well underway but we know that there is more to do. That’s why we will continue to focus on the health and safety of Tasmanians as we manage this pandemic, and we will continue our focus on growing our economy, creating jobs, and getting more Tasmanians back into work.
The Report handed down today is proof that we’re delivering on our plan and rebuilding a stronger Tasmania.