Four year net policy decisions included in each Budget and Growth in government operating expenses
A new architecture for infrastructure
Corporate tax rates in Australia and the OECD 2008
Making provision for future priorities
IMF gives an A+ to Australia's economic management;
10. Fiscal policy focused on medium-term sustainability has delivered a sequence of surpluses that has eliminated commonwealth net debt. This leaves Australia with a strong fiscal position, an enviable situation by international standards. We support the strategy in the latest budget to save the revenue windfall from the commodity driven boom and thereby allow automatic stabilizers to support monetary policy. Saving some of the revenue from the commodity price boom in three new funds will take pressure off monetary policy in the near term and enable increased infrastructure investment over the medium term.
11. The reduction in public spending growth in the latest budget illustrates the government's commitment to help reduce inflation. With the upside risks to the outlook for inflation, more public spending restraint could be required and we encourage the authorities to identify areas where additional spending cuts could be implemented. In addition, positive revenue surprises should be saved to assist monetary policy until it is clear that inflation will decline. Given the uncertainty about how much of the increase in commodity prices will be permanent, saving the additional revenue in the near-term may avoid sharp changes in taxes and spending in the future.
12. The states have increased capital spending and their budget balance has shifted to a small deficit in aggregate, thereby adding stimulus to the economy. This highlights the importance of maintaining restraint at the commonwealth level.
13. To the extent that the improvement in the budget balance is structural, associated with permanently higher commodity prices, this should provide scope to reduce taxes or increase spending over the medium term. The governments' intention to achieve a positive balance over the medium term should increase public net worth, further strengthening the fiscal position. Our analysis suggests that a combination of lower labor and capital income taxes, along with increased public investment, will generate the largest economic gains. The gains from other options such as lower consumption taxes or higher public consumption are not as large. Despite the expected structural improvement in the medium term, significant long-term fiscal challenges remain, particularly in the area of healthcare spending, and early adjustments will be key to preserving fiscal sustainability.