Premier Brad Wall says no long-term savings account before debt is gone
Opposition accuses government of flip-flopping on 'heritage fund' idea
Saskatchewan's opposition is accusing the Premier of flip-flopping on his promise to create a permanent savings account in Saskatchewan.
Brad Wall told CBC more than a year ago that he could not see how the government "would want to delay any longer" in starting such a fund after receiving a report which he commissioned.
That report, written by former University of Saskatchewan president Peter MacKinnon, said that regardless of which formula the government chose for saving a portion of non-renewable resource revenue — from paying off debt before putting money into the savings account, to putting $100-million dollars in to launch the fund in 2014 — the most important thing was to get started.
"Whatever option is chosen, high priority should be given to the early establishment of the fund," MacKinnon concluded.
In a year-end interview with CBC in 2013, Wall seemed to agree. He said, "I think it sends the right signal that first of all this wasn't just a public relations exercise, because it most assuredly wasn't."
Now, Wall says there is not much point in even discussing a long-term savings fund before government debt is eliminated.
"We inherited from various other governments about $6.8-billion of credit card debt. This is debt where governments over the years only ever paid the interest," Wall told reporters on Wednesday.
"So when we had some good fortune early on in our government, we paid off $3-billion off the credit card. But there's still $3.8-billion on the credit card. It's our view that you pay off the credit card before you save for the future," Wall said.
The NDP's finance critic Trent Wotherspoon said the government's change of heart is disappointing. In a news release, he said every family knows that it is "smart to save a little bit for the future, even if you're also paying a mortgage".
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