Road map to a balanced budget

NationalPost.com – Opinion/Full Comment
Posted: March 15, 2010.  Stockwell Day

As outlined in Budget 2010: Leading the Way on Jobs and Growth, our government has a clear three-point plan to return to a balanced budget. First, we will wind down as planned the temporary measures in the Economic Action Plan. These investments are protecting and creating jobs now.  Second, we will take action to ensure government lives within its means. And third, we will conduct a comprehensive review of government administrative and overhead costs.

The last two points are both concerned with maximizing government efficiency and exercising fiscal restraint. As we follow our roadmap to return to a balanced budget, we need to take action to ensure that government lives within its means. All Canadians have had to make sacrifices over the past year. Families everywhere have had to take a look at their own expenses and set priorities. They expect their government to do the same, and that is exactly what we are doing.

We have recently announced that the operating budgets of federal departments will be frozen at the 2010-11 levels.  Based on budget forecasts, the freeze is expected to achieve savings totaling about $1.8-billion by 2012-13.  Here, we are leading by example by freezing salaries for the Prime Minister, ministers, MPs, Senators and ministers’ offices budgets.

What’s more, we have introduced a strategic review process whereby all federal programs must demonstrate that they are effective and efficient. They must show they are focused on Canadians’ priorities and meeting the changing needs of Canadians. The 2009 round of reviews reallocated up to $287-million to budget priorities. In 2010-11, about $33-billion will be reviewed and in all, we anticipate savings of close to $1.7-billion.

In addition, we will also conduct a comprehensive review of administrative functions and overhead costs. Our goal is to eliminate any redundant spending and find savings wherever they may exist. The review will look at external and internal service operations, business processes and administration.

And as part of our plan to improve efficiency and governance across federal departments and agencies, I have also announced the elimination of 245 federal appointment positions across government. In streamlining these organizations, the government is ensuring its resources are put to the best possible use for Canadians.

A balanced budget over the long term is necessary for economic growth and job creation. As opposed to previous governments, we are not going to balance the budget by cutting transfer payments for health care and education or by raising taxes on hard-working Canadians.

Under the leadership of Stephen Harper, Canada is in a good position to come through the global economic recession stronger than ever. Indeed, the International Monetary Fund, the World Economic Forum, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Economist Intelligence Unit all say we are now in the best position financially of the G8 countries. Sound financial management always helps attract foreign investment and foreign investment spurs domestic economic growth.

There are encouraging signs of a global economic recovery.  Although that recovery remains fragile, Canada is well placed to emerge from the recession stronger than ever. Our plan to see Canada through tough economic times is clearly working.

National Post

Stockwell Day is president of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Asia-Pacific Gateway.

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