Peter Gutwein,Premier & Treasurer
Our number one priority throughout COVID-19 has been to protect the health and safety of Tasmanians.
Today I have released the Treasurer’s Annual Financial Report for 2019-20.
The pandemic has been one of the largest shocks to our way of life, our economy and our budget. As a result, the 2019-20 TAFR shows that the General Government Sector incurred a Net Operating Deficit of $338 million.
However because we went into this pandemic with a strong economy and a strong balance sheet holding net cash and investments rather than net debt we ended the financial year still net debt free and instead continue to hold net cash and investments at the end of the financial year.
Through our nation leading support and stimulus measures, combined with immediate and long term actions to recover and rebuild a stronger Tasmania, two-thirds of Tasmanians who lost their job at the height of the pandemic have now returned to work.
As previously forecast in the August Economic and Fiscal update these are unprecedented and challenging times, which requires an unprecedented and proactive response.
On November 12, the 2020-21 State Budget will be released and will confirm that in line with previous forecasts, due to the impact of the pandemic on our revenues, particularly GST as a result of the national downturn, and our $1 billion economic and social support package to support our community and our businesses through this pandemic, the deficit for 2020-21 will be in the order of $1.1 billion.
The Budget will also show that as we continue to leverage our strong balance sheet to stimulate our economy, attract investment and create jobs through record infrastructure investment, net debt for the 2020-21 budget year is estimated to be in the order of $1.8 billion, which is forecast to be the lowest level in the country.
We know that the best way to get our budget back on track and and create jobs is to bolster confidence and grow the economy, and that is what we are doing.
We have a plan to rebuild a stronger Tasmania, including our $3.1 billion construction blitz to support 15,000 jobs, and the latest CommSec Report demonstrates our Plan is working. Tasmania was ranked first outright as the best performing economy in the country for three quarters in a row, with employment growing over the year to September and economic activity – despite the pandemic – remains 20 per cent higher than the decade average.
We have delivered for Tasmania before and we will do it again.