We can not say that the Minister of Finance, Eric Girard, has the compass in the eye!
When presenting his 2021-2022 budget in March 2021, Minister Girard planned to end this fiscal year with a deficit of $9.2 billion, before transferring money to the Generations Fund.
Results ? He finally closed the 2021-2022 fiscal year with – hold on tight – a budget surplus of $3.32 billion. Which gives a “monstrous” gap in budget forecasts of $12.5 billion!
How did it come to this?
In terms of revenue, the Legault government pocketed additional revenue of $16.8 billion in 2021-2022 compared to Minister Girard's initial forecasts. This is 13.7% more than expected. Let's agree that this is a "generous" difference in favor of the Legault government.
This revenue surplus includes additional revenue of $13.3 billion in tax revenue (taxes, duties, fees, permits, etc.), additional revenue of $1.27 billion from government enterprises (Hydro- Quebec, Loto-Quebec, Investissement Quebec, etc.) and an additional federal transfer amount of $2.24 billion.
On the government expenditure side, there are additional expenditures (portfolios, anti-COVID-19 measures) of around $4.27 billion compared to budget forecasts.
Minister Eric Girard attributed the improvement in Quebec's fiscal situation to the strong economic recovery in the province.
THE FLOP OF 2020-2021
This is not the first time that Minister Girard has failed in his budget forecasts. I remind you that his 2020-2021 budget had become downright obsolete... just a few days after being tabled.
When presenting his budget on March 10, 2020, Girard ignored the pandemic, which was beginning to wreak havoc in Quebec. It planned to end the fiscal year with a budget surplus of $2.7 billion (before transferring money to the Generations Fund).
He and the monks of the Ministry of Finance had to be really disconnected from reality. Because barely three days later, François Legault triggered the health emergency and the paralysis of several sectors of the economy.
Minister Girard was forced to redo his classes, and he tabled a budget update three months later in which he intended, this time, to end the 2020-2021 fiscal year with a spectacular deficit of $12.4 billion.
Finally, it ended the 2020-2021 fiscal year with a deficit of $4.2 billion, or $8.2 billion less than its revised forecast!
THE CURRENT YEAR...
As part of the 2022-2023 budget tabled last March, the treasurer of the Legault government forecast a deficit of around $3 billion.
It's a safe bet that Minister Girard has again underestimated his revenue forecasts. He has forecast total revenues of $138.5 billion for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, or nearly $1 billion less than the revenues collected in 2021-2022!
Can't wait to see the pre-election report on the state of Québec's public finances, which will be published in mid-August in view of the upcoming election campaign.