Australia’s budget will be in surplus for the first time since John Howard was prime minister, economists from the National Australia Bank believe. NAB is expecting Tuesday’s federal budget to show a surplus of $1.3 billion for the current financial year.
The government has raked in more revenue than expected thanks to rosy commodity prices and strong jobs growth. The prediction, in NAB’s pre-budget analysis, would mean the budget would be back in surplus a year earlier than expected.
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The Morrison government predicted a $5.2 billion deficit for 2018/19 in its December mid-year budget update, followed by surpluses of $4.1 billion for 2019/20 and $12.5 billion in 2020/21.
Commonwealth Bank economists are expecting far larger surpluses beyond this year, with combined surpluses for 2019/20 and 2012/21 of $60 billion, The Australian reports.
But a chunk of the money set to improve the bottom line on Tuesday could be funds not spent by the National Disability Insurance Scheme, according to The Australian Financial Review.
The paper reports officials have discussed whether to disguise $2.5 billion not paid to providers, or to use it to reduce this year’s deficit.
Meanwhile, Scott Morrison is set to announce $1.6 billion worth of infrastructure projects for Western Australia. The prime minister will be in Perth for the second time this month to announce road and rail funding on Thursday, days out from next week’s budget.
The government has also committed $3 million in funding for the early detection and awareness of degenerative eye disease, with health a key battleground ahead of the May election.
Homes and businesses in remote and regional Australia could be connected to reliable stand alone power systems, known as microgrids, under a $50 million federal government plan.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor has announced a fund will be set up to support 50 communities across the country that are either off the main power grid or on the fringe.