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Go easy on pre-election sweeteners, warns CCI

WA’S biggest employer group has welcomed a report indicating an improvement in WA’s “bottom line” for the 1999-2000 year but warned both major political parties to exercise restraint when offering pre-election sweeteners.

WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry senior economist Dan Engles said the results were possibly the best in five years – but were due mainly to strong economic conditions.

He said the results put the Government in a stronger position going into an election compared to 1996. He said it was likely that both political parties would offer more election promises than previous polls.

“It is definitely a good news story and we just hope they use it responsibly,” Mr Engles said.

He said the Court Government had heeded Chamber concerns and exercised restraint during the past 12 months.

The new Government Financial Results Report, which compares the final 1999-2000 results with Budget predictions, shows the total public sector achieved a net operating surplus of $303 million – $218 million above the Budget estimate.

Is is the first time the report has been issued and is a result of the Government Financial Responsibility Act implemented in July.

The general government sector, which excludes government trading enterprises such as Western Power and the Water Corporation, recorded a $10 million operating deficit for the year – compared with the revised May 2000-01 Budget estimate of a $60 million deficit.

Mr Court said the turnaround was the result of strong revenue growth, comprising mainly increases in mineral and petroleum royalties, and additional stamp duty from pre-GST conveyancing activity.

“These final results are good news for WA,” the Premier said.

Labor Party Treasury spokesman Eric Ripper said: “The latest financial statement reveals that the Government has delivered a State Budget in the red – for the fourth year in a row.”

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