In what could be his last Scrutiny hearing in the role, Senator Alan Maclean said he believed the Island’s finances had improved since he took over as Treasury Minister from Senator Philip Ozouf following the 2014 general election. But he added that he was ‘surprised’ at some of the issues he had to deal with when he became minister.
‘I think that States finances are in a better position today than they were in 2014,’ he said. ‘At the time, significant investment was required in health and education and there was a significant amount of capital expenditure required.
‘The Medium Term Financial Plan accounted for about £168 million of investment and we were looking to improve
services in health and education, in particular.
‘We started with a deficit of £28 million and that was the result of over-estimating income in the previous MTFP.’
Responding to questioning from Corporate Services Scrutiny panel chairman John Le Fondré, the minister said that
his department had updated its income forecasting strategy since 2014.
‘We have had some success is in making changes in areas like income forecasting, where we have become much more conservative,’ he said.
‘We have seen budget surpluses, which is allowing us to replenish reserves – which is what the Fiscal Policy Panel [an independent board of economic advisers] recommended.
‘We had to use the Strategic reserve to support the economy and jobs, and we need to replenish it for when there is another downturn in the future, which there will be.’
He added: ‘We are in a much more favourable position.’
The hearing was also attended by panel members Senator Sarah Ferguson and Deputy Simon Brée.