The Sir Robert Bond Papers: More cuts. Some questions. #nlpoli

Flatter, Leaner Management Structure. Put it all in caps like that and you have a handy acronym that bureaucrats can type over and over again without getting tired. It’s like the Government Renewal Initiative.  Internal government documents quickly started referring to the GRI.  And almost as quickly, the wags among the province’s public servants started ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Sovereignty #nlpoli

Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the very few countries on the planet that got itself into such a financial mess that it gave up self-government.  The people gave up their right and power to govern themselves. That is, they gave up their sovereignty. They took it back in 1949,  no matter what sort of ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Debt servicing and revenue, 2013-2016 #nlpoli

There are lots of ways of looking the government’s budget. Here’s one that’s a bit unconventional. Rather than look at how much the government is spending on debt servicing as a share of all expenses, let’s take a look at what it means as a share of the government’s income from its own sources. Debt ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Behaviour Patterns #nlpoli

January 2016. Dwight Ball tells reporters in year-end interviews that “everything is on the table” to deal with the government’s financial problem. Then, Ball took everything off the table. As SRBP put it last year: No cuts to spending as that would slow the economy.  Ditto for tax increases.  Even “efficiency” went out as Ball ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Putting the sunk in sunk cost #nlpoli #cdnpoli

Muskrat Falls is basically an $800 million tax on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. That’s roughly the amount you get using numbers Nalcor chief executive Stan Marshall made public last summer. Muskrat Falls is a tax on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.  Always was that.  Never was anything else.  The plan was to ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Taxing our understanding #nlpoli

Over the past week, there’s been a flurry of comment about gasoline prices and the fact that, as of New Year’s Day, a  provincial sales tax now applies to books.  It’s 10%, on top of the federal sales tax of five per cent. All sorts of people are talking about these two things as if ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Tibb’s Eve Accord #nlpoli

Health minister John Haggie said that the health deal signed with Ottawa on Tibb’s Eve was the best deal that could be got. Haggie’s probably right.  At least, the deal contains a clause that if another province gets a better deal, we can opt for that one instead. It’s been so very long since we’ve seen ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: AIMS refutes austerity hysteria #nlpoli #AIMS

From the latest Atlantic Institute for Market Studies paper: “Measuring Austerity in Atlantic Canada investigates whether the use of the term austerity in the context of Atlantic Canada’s public finance is accurate. The author examines public accounts data from the four provinces, adjusting for inflation, to determine the annual amount of program expenditure in absolute and ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: How much do we owe? #nlpoli

CBC Radio Noon had board of trade president Des Whalen in the studio on Monday.   Board of Trade thinks the debt is about $13 billion today.  Don’t talk about Muskrat Falls.  That’s in the past.  Yeah, well, when your humble e-scribbler challenged Des on the numbers the best he could come up with was ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Ball, Bennett, Williams, and Marshall #nlpoli

One of the things finance minister Cathy Bennett told NTV’s Issues and Answers this weekend was that the Premier Dwight Ball scrapped the fall mini-budget in September in favour of his own Grand Strategy for Moving Forward in a Generally Advancing Fashion with Vision. Ball scrapped the financial course laid out in the budget because of ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Sunshine, lollipops, and fluffy kittens #nlpoli

Finance minister Cathy Bennett read words that tried to make the provincial government’s financial situation sound better than it was forecast to be last spring. For all the wonderful words in Bennett’s scripted remarks, Bennett could not hide the truth. Her tone of voice was more sombre and depressed than if Premier Dwight Ball had ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Truth and Reconciliation #nlpoli

Long ago,  so long ago no one remembers when,  they did away with Virtue in Newfoundland​ politics.  To be on the safe side, they slit the throats of her twins, Truth and Justice, and tossed the little corpses on top of their mother’s body before leaving the three in a shallow, unmarked grave in the woods. ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Way Forward #nlpoli

Last December, Dwight Ball laid out his plan to deal with the provincial government’s financial problems. Ball made the comments to CBC’s David Cochrane a week or two after he’d been sworn in.  This was after he’d been briefed on the provincial government’s financial situation, so he’d had a chance to get over any shock ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Prov gov finances headed south #nlpoli

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is offering its bonds on the American market, according to Bloomberg News.  VOCM reported it locally on Wednesday. The provincial government hopes that its high interest rates will attract investors.  “We are providing some of the highest yields in the country among provincial borrowers,”  deputy finance minister Donna Brewer ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Core Public Service Numbers #nlpoli

Somebody requested the number of public servants through Access to Information and the folks in the department answered only half the question. But that’s okay because the figures for the core public service are worth looking at anyway. Regular readers will recognise the trend.  Starting in 2006,  the Conservatives went on a hiring spree.  They ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Rasputisa and the 2016 Budget #nlpoli

The speech finance minister Cathy Bennett read in the House of Assembly on Thursday was as horrible as the reaction most of the province have been having to it. That’s not surprising given that the entire budget communications program was the product of precisely the same folks who delivered repeated political and policy disasters for ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Incrementalists #nlpoli

Today is budget day. There’s been lots of speculation flying around, most of it a confirmation that people have little real information about anything. If you have been paying attention, though, you can probably make a fairly good guess at what Thursday’s budget will look like. What follows is based entirely on what Dwight Ball ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: The Sir Robert Bond Papers 2016-03-18 04:30:00

The deficit for 2015 will be a record. We know that because of comments at the House of Assembly by Premier Dwight Ball and finance minister Cathy Bennett. News media are reporting that as “raising the province’s borrowing capacity” but that’s not quite what is going on.  The markets will determine the province’s borrowing capacity. ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Evidence-based decision-making #nlpoli

James McLeod had a tidy piece in Wednesday’s Telegram on the government’s effort to find a way of out of the financial mess. it’s well worth your time. The document McLeod got through an access to information request shows the extent to which the cabinet wants to cover all the bases in finding a way ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Moody’s warns NL government on finances #nlpoli

Moody’s Investor Services is the second rating agency to give the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador a negative trending  in light of the government’;s financial problems. In a release, Moody’s said that the “negative outlook for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador reflects the rising risk that the province’s fiscal position will deteriorate further than ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Jerry Earle won’t retweet this post #nlpoli

Apparently the surest way to piss off a couple of university academics a.k.a the NDP policy brain-trust is to point out how their take on the government’s financial crisis is out to lunch. Short recap:  Math prof and Indy columnist Tom Baird got hold of an access to information response that explained the calculations behind ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Revenue problem #nlpoli

Jon Parsons  has an interesting take on the provincial government;s financial mess.  It’s worth taking a few minutes to go through it.  Follow some of the links he offers as well.  Altogether they form what you might call a different perspective on things:  The current deficit and debt…are the result of decisions that were made ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: ‘Engagement’ can be an excuse for avoiding action #nlpoli

by Craig Westcott The Ball administration is off to a shaky start. Actually, it seems afraid to start at all. Tuesday’s press conference announcing 15 months of public consultation on how to handle the deficit is another indication that this administration is afraid to act. To use a tired cliché, the Liberals are like the ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Enough #nlpoli

You can easily lose track of the number of former cabinets who will tell you the same thing. Ask them about the one lesson of government and budgets that stands in their minds.  They’ll likely all tell you some version of the same thing. There is never “enough.” No matter how much money you put ...

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Metrics #nlpoli

Telegram editor Russell Wangersky tried on Monday to put the government’s financial mess into some shape that people could understand. The simple fact, to put a shortfall of $2 billion into perspective, is that if the provincial government wanted to cover those costs outside of oil revenues, it would have to not only double the ...