Australia tips into record deficit amid tax cuts and jobs support

Australia tips into record deficit amid tax cuts and jobs support
Australia’s recovery plan will look to create a million jobs over four years. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 07 October 2020

Australia tips into record deficit amid tax cuts and jobs support

Australia tips into record deficit amid tax cuts and jobs support
  • Australia will spend $4 billion Australian dollars over the next year to pay businesses

SYDNEY: Australia pledged billions in tax cuts and measures to boost jobs on Tuesday to help pull the economy out of its historic COVID-19 slump,  in a budget that tips the country into its deepest deficit on record.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative government has unleashed $300 billion Australian dollars ($215 billion) in emergency stimulus to prop up growth this year, backpedalling on a previous promise to return the budget to surplus.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday announced $17.8 billion Australian dollars in personal tax cuts and $5.2 billion Australian dollars in new programs to boost employment in a recovery plan aimed at creating 1 million new jobs over the next four years.

Those measures are forecast to push the budget deficit out to a record $213.7 billion Australian dollars, or 11 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021.

“There is no economic recovery without a jobs recovery,” Frydenberg said in prepared remarks to parliament. “There is no budget recovery without a jobs recovery.”

Australia’s unemployment rate hit a 22-year high of 7.5 percent in July as businesses and borders closed due to strict lockdown measures to deal with the coronavirus.

While the number of deaths and infections in Australia from COVID-19 has been low compared with many other countries, the hit to GDP has been severe.

Australia’s $2 trillion Australian dollar economy shrank 7 percent in the three months ended June, the most since records began in 1959.

In its new projections, the government expects unemployment to rise to 7.25 percent by the end of the current fiscal year and then fall to 6 percent by June 2023. Australia’s GDP is expected to shrink 1.5 percent for the current fiscal year before returning to growth of 4.75 percent in the next.

Australia will spend $4 billion Australian dollars over the next year to pay businesses that hire those under the age of 35 as it targets youth unemployment.

The budget also brings forward previously legislated tax cuts for middle-income earners and extends tax breaks for individuals offered in last year’s budget for low- and middle-income earners.

Some of these cuts will be retrospectively backdated to July 1, 2020.

The government’s highly expansionary budget comes shortly after the central bank’s policy decision on Tuesday, at which it kept interest rates at a record low and flagged reducing high unemployment rate as a national priority.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has slashed interest rates this year to 0.25 percent and pumped billions into the bond market to keep credit flowing to the economy.

Both the fiscal and monetary support this year has helped restore consumption and business confidence and bring the unemployment rate down to 6.8 percent.

Frydenberg has pledged to pare the heavy fiscal support once the unemployment rate falls “comfortably below 6 percent.”

Australia delayed the release of this year’s federal budget, which usually takes place in May, as the coronavirus upended most of the economic assumptions underlying its projections.


Goldman Sachs nudges U.S. growth forecast higher on Biden stimulus plan

Goldman Sachs nudges U.S. growth forecast higher on Biden stimulus plan
Updated 17 January 2021

Goldman Sachs nudges U.S. growth forecast higher on Biden stimulus plan

Goldman Sachs nudges U.S. growth forecast higher on Biden stimulus plan
  • The bank expects economic growth of 6.6% in 2021
  • Biden outlined a $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposal on Thursday

Analysts at Goldman Sachs Group raised their U.S. growth forecast for the second time this month on expectations that President-elect Joe Biden’s fiscal stimulus plan will hasten the economy’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bank expects economic growth of 6.6% in 2021, compared with a previous forecast of 6.4%, according to a report published on Saturday. It also raised forecasts for how much stimulus the new administration will be able to push through in the near-term, to $1.1 trillion from $750 billion.
Biden outlined a $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposal on Thursday, saying bold investment was needed to jump-start the economy and accelerate the distribution of vaccines to bring the coronavirus under control.
“Larger boosts to disposable income and government spending imply stronger growth later in the year,” the bank’s analysts wrote.