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January 16, 2001
For immediate release

Provincial Treasurer Responds To Financial Information Presented By Liberal Opposition

Provincial Treasury

Today, Hon. Patricia J. Mella, Provincial Treasurer responded to the financial information presented by the Opposition Leader, Ron MacKinley. "The information he is presenting is misleading in that most of the figures related to budget estimates do not provide the actual revenues incurred during the fiscal years in question," stated Mrs. Mella.

Mr. MacKinley presents a chart which misrepresents government's revenues from the equalization program. The equalization revenue for 97-98 was $208 million, and equalization revenue for this year is estimated to be $266 million.

The $58 million increase has been committed to important programs in the areas of health care and education, which had been neglected until the change of government in 1996.

The Opposition document refers to the unemployment rate. "The fact is, the unemployment rate today is 11.8% -- the lowest it has been since 1983. At the same time, we have experienced the highest job growth in the country with more than 5,000 new jobs coming to this province," said the Provincial Treasurer.

Mr. MacKinley's chart referring to Provincial Revenue growth is also incorrect. Total revenues in 96-97 were $806 million. Total revenues to date are $914 million. The new revenue since 1996 is $107 million.

"That amount over four years might look like a windfall. However, government expenditures are increasing at a faster pace due to increased costs in health care, new expenditures in education, and additional costs in transportation due to fuel price increases," noted Mrs. Mella.

The Binns' government has introduced three successive balanced budgets, implemented four tax cuts for Islanders. At the same time, better fiscal management has allowed this government to put more than $75 million new dollars into health; launch an ambitious capital construction initiative for education; introduce a province-wide kindergarten system; and provide development dollars to grow our economy.

"To suggest that government is squandering resources is to suggest that increased funding to health care and education is wasteful. I just do not think that Islanders agree with that contention," stated Mrs. Mella.

Media Contact: Patricia Mella
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