It’s been a couple of weeks since Tom Marshall was shuttled back in charge of the province’s finances. Following the resignation of former finance minister Jerome Kennedy and a cabinet shuffle, it’s familiar territory for the member of the House of Assembly for Humber East who has held the post twice before.
By now the minister will have gotten a feel for how the province’s finances are proceeding and should be already working on a mid-year update on how the budget numbers are stacking up.
The update is especially important this year because of all the severe actions that were introduced in the spring by Kennedy … including cuts and the layoff of hundreds of civil servants.
The money-saving manoeuvers were meant to get the provincial government over a looming cash crunch because of a expected drop in oil production which would severely reduce the royalties flowing into the provincial treasury.
Now is the time to tally up the numbers and let the taxpayers of the province how the books look in the wake of Kennedy’s trimming. One thing Marshall does have going for him is the world price of oil.
The price of crude has been above $100 a barrel for months and that will quickly add up and improve the outlook.
We have seen predicted budget deficits in the recent past quickly turn into a surplus buoyed by unexpected millions from oil income. That much improvement is almost certainly not in the books this year … but any amount of improvement in the deficit has to be positive for the economy and the people of the province as a whole.
Marshall has been the bearer of good economic autumn news in the past. Let’s hope his luck hasn’t run out.