Chief Minister Andrew Barr will create a new pool of funding, worth as much as $100 million next fiscal year, to allow territory government directorates to fund capital works even after reaching the limits of the budget.
The pool of funds would be worth up to 20 per cent of the government's total capital works budget, using funds from future budget years government directorates could draw on to fund budgeted works in the current financial year.
It comes as the territory government faces criticism over its rising levels of net debt, which increased more than $100 million in the six months to January this year, amid concern about the true state of the territory's finances despite a stable AAA rating.
While the government often rolls over spending on its promised capital works budget each year, Mr Barr has previously attributed that to a lack of available contractors to deliver the work, or delayed financial close, rather than lack of available funds.
The government has budgeted about $700 million for such works in 2019-20, suggesting the reserve would be worth some $100 million next year, though any funds not spent in a given year would expire at the end of that year.
Mr Barr told the Assembly the fund would mean directorates could access funds from any year in the forward estimates to help complete the work, make it more efficient and give Treasury and directorates more accurate budget estimates.
While directorates could access funds from future years if they exceeded the existing years' capital works budget, funds taken from the 20 per cent reserve would be deducted from that directorates total capital work budget over the forward estimates.
The reserve, which would sit outside the government's usual budget appropriation process, is in addition to the Treasurer's existing $50 million a year advance, which itself was meant to be used to fund urgent or unforeseen budget measures outside of the approved appropriations.
Under the legislation, the Treasurer would need to authorise any payments to directorates to come out of the capital works reserve, as well as report in the quarterly financial statements on any such statements, as well as in six-monthly capital works updates.
Debate on the bill was adjourned for a future sitting.
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