'Promises, promises, and more promises'

Peter Devries, the former director of the fiscal policy division in the Department of Finance, dissects Jim Flaherty’s latest projections.

It was claimed in the budget and again in the Harper Platform that a “Strategic and Operating Review” could yield savings of $1 billion in 2012-13, $2 billion in 2013-14 and $4 billion ongoing by improving “the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations and programs”. In other words,in the language of budget planners “we don’t have a clue where to find the savings so we will put in a “plug” of $4 billion”. If it is easy now to find $4 billion in annual savings through “efficiencies” then why didn’t the government start 5 years ago? … Anyone who has actually been involved in controlling and cutting program expenditures will tell you that it is not possible to find savings of that amount through “efficiencies”. To find credible savings that would generate $4 billion ongoing would require elimination/cuts to existing programs.

Paul Wells spoke with Mr. Flaherty last night.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.