Cooking with the books

I must be getting old.

But I have this overwhelming feeling of deja vu.

The year 1999. The setting – right after the provincial election. The firm: Grant Thornton. The objective: do a ‘real’ audit of the books to see just how bad things really are.

Fast forward to 2006. Audit, Grant Thornton. Just how bad things really are.

In 1999, GT reported that the government was actually running a huge deficit (I seem to recall $200M+ but because of accounting practices were showing balanced books).

Also, funny thing, the first Lord government budget was fully balanced – despite the GT audit findings -and with no major program cuts. I didn’t explore in great detail at the time, but I assumed that Lord and the boys either didn’t change the accounting practices of the Libs or came up with creative ones of their own.

Now in 2006, we will get the same exact thing. The Tories were cooking the books. The fiscal situation is bad.

I haven’t seen the audit but, again with age, I grow more and more skeptical of the political games people play.

The NB government has a thorough process in place to ensure the accountability of the books. They are audited, there is an auditor general, one would hope the media is keeping a watchful eye, etc.

I have no doubt that what was said/done in 1999 will be repeated in 2006. Big ‘real’ deficit followed by a balanced budget anyway.

If Graham wants to cancel the stupid, completely politically motived and designed to cover over incompetence in energy policy and actions HST rebate on electricity (albeit lucrative for me and my 100 year old home), he should. But he shouldn’t play games with people.

When it comes to the provincial books, its a shadowy world to the average citizen as it is. Don’t make it worse by confusing people with different accounting mechanisms, reporting mechanisms, etc. Let the Auditor General do his/her job (as when Wilson chastised Lord for certain creative ‘accounting’ back in 2001). But he/she is in the best position to be fair and accurate about that stuff.