January 23, 1997
Pre-budget public consultation document and
details of public consultation process released
Finance Minister Paul Dicks today released a pre-budget consultation document on the province's fiscal position. The document Making Choices sets out the state of the province's finances and asks Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to participate in the second pre-budget consultation process in the province.
"Last year, for the first time in the province's history, government opened up to the public the decision making process leading to the annual budget," said the minister. "Many people told government their concerns about high taxes, and where public monies should be spent. The input was invaluable in preparing the 1996 Budget. As a result, government is continuing with its commitment to public consultation on budget issues again this year."
The Making Choices document outlines the sources of government's funds, where our money is spent, our debt and the economic outlook for our province. The document also includes information on Program Review, the process which government has undertaken to comprehensively evaluate all of our programs and services to establish priorities, and determine the most efficient delivery methods. In addition, the minister has included a questionnaire which will assist government in further understanding the opinions of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians on the taxes we pay, the programs and services we receive, and what size our debt and deficit should be.
"Making the right choices requires all of us to make an assessment of where we are as a province, and where we should be going over the next three years. The economy will be weaker in 1997, but will begin to improve in late 1998," said the minister. "This should continue into the foreseeable future, led by petroleum and mining developments, and helped by our economic policies."
The minister added, however, that the economic growth does not have an immediate positive impact on government revenues since major resource developments have to recover their costs before paying substantial royalties, and because federal equalization payments decline as tax revenues increase. He said that while the province and our people are better off as the economy strengthens, this will not immediately translate into a substantially better fiscal situation for the government.
Mr. Dicks pointed out that we need to deal with our financial situation now, commencing with a sound and realistic three year budget plan.
During the coming weeks, a series of public meetings, chaired by Mr. Dicks, will be held around the province to seek the input of the people. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can participate in the consultation process by joining in the meetings, or they can provide comments or receive information by:
- calling our toll-free phone number 1-800-563-7442
- e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- visiting us on the Internet at //choices.htm
- faxing us at 709-729-2095 or
- writing us at Making Choices, c/o Minister of Finance, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, P.O. Box 8700, St. John's, NF A1B 4J6
For those with special needs, the Making Choices document is also available in alternative format.
The dates and locations for the public meetings are as follows:
DATE LOCATION VENUE
Friday, January 31 Corner Brook Holiday Inn
Monday, February 3 Wabush Wabush Hotel
Tuesday, February 4 Happy Valley-Goose Bay The Aurora
Friday, February 7 Grand Falls-Windsor Mount Peyton
Monday, February 10 Marystown Hotel Marystown
Tuesday, February 11 Clarenville Clarenville Inn
Wednesday, February 12 Gander Irving West
Thursday and Friday,
February 13 and 14 St. John's The Battery
Groups and individuals wishing to make a presentation to the Minister of Finance at the public meetings are asked to make arrangements by telephoning the 1-800 line.
Contact: Karen M. McCarthy, Director of Communications, (709) 729- 0110.
1997 01 23 4:40 p.m.