State finances ship-shape

Written on the 30 November -1

S&P boss tells Tresurer our robust economy has 'few peers'

QUEENSLAND'S economic performance has been praised by a world ratings leader, during Deputy Premier and Treasurer Anna Bligh's visit to the US.

Global Head of Standard & Poor's Corporate and Government Ratings, Paul Coughlin was glowing in his report to
Ms Bligh.

"Among state and regional governments around the globe, it (Queensland) has few peers in terms of its commitment to funding current spending and pension obligations from current revenues and strictly limiting debt usage.," said Mr Coughlin.

In further praising the State's financial management Mr Coughlin noted: "The State of Queensland has benefited from the far-sighted financial management of successive governments".

"Standard & Poor's has released a number of studies over the past year or two in Europe and America highlighting a potential crisis in public finances caused by the growing burden of retirement benefits as the population ages," he said.

"By comparison, many state governments in the US and Europe have substantial debt - together with a heavy burden of unfunded or underfunded pension and health care obligations.

"Policy makers in Europe and America and elsewhere are only now beginning to confront the costs of an aging population against the background of substantial debt and often structural budget deficits. Queensland, by contrast, has a legacy of financial discipline, the full funding of its pension obligations and a robust economy," he said.

"This enables the State to approach the expansion of investment in infrastructure and health care facilities from a position of strength.""

Ms Bligh says the Beattie Government has worked hard for the past eight years to ensure that the Queensland economy is in this envied position.

"We retain a best-possible Triple-A
credit rating, we're being more-than-favourably compared with international economies and we continue to be a low-tax state," she says.

"This sits well with Queensland having - for more than a decade - economic growth greater than the national average.

"Our rating and reactions like this means that when we go to the market seeking finance, we get the best rates."


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