Yesterday’s budget speech was designed to irritate no one and please everyone. On the back of barely spoken bold assumptions of pumping economic growth, the government told itself and everyone it could afford to be generous. And so it was.
An economist would want to examine those underlying assumptions. They would look at the numbers and assess their plausibility or highlight to the rest of us where the risks are. How can we afford this generosity – for we’ll need to pay for it – and how right is the government to be confident that we can?
This is not criticism of the government in the same sense as the tough job of a Parliamentary Opposition that needs to look for things to say in the midst of the bounty thrown about by the government like bread and gold coins at the Coliseum. This is about providing a technical appraisal of the budget and looking beneath the fog of political hyperbole.
So TVM got Kirsten Cutajar Miller to provide her expert opinion.
Look her up. She’s a veteran of Nexia BT from the Brian Tonna school of professional straight-talking objectivity in matters concerning the interests of the Labour Party. Her portfolio shows she was one of the evaluators that chose Electrogas in the infamous power station procurement process.
The government may project a picture of confidence that this last PR exercise before an election they are almost certain to win will be unblemished. But they’re taking no chances. TVM’s economic analysis of the budget was as useful as the economy page on Pravda before Glasnost.