Acting Liberal leader Roger Melanson made strong accusations about the province’s finances on Wednesday.
New Brunswick’s second-quarter finances were released on Nov. 16, but Melanson said he believes those figures were rigged.
“I think there was political maneuvering here and manipulation of the numbers,” he said, speaking to reporters on Wednesday. “So when you announce $ 145 million of additional revenue for the first quarter and in five weeks it increases to a quarter of a trillion dollars, something tells me that there was money or revenue withheld and not made public.”
Melanson went so far as to ask the auditor general in a letter to do an independent audit of the reports thus far.
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Melanson said in the letter that, as a former finance minister, he is deeply “concerned” by this government’s lack of transparency and the perceived manipulation of these documents.
The government initially reported revenue of $ 145 million, which increased to $ 237 million, according to Prime Minister Blaine Higgs. Both results were delayed beyond the usual deadline for them to be made public.
“In our case, we were a bit surprised because we anticipated a deficit,” he said. “So the first quarter was like, we’re sure this is correct because it was outside of what we projected. We took the time to make sure it was okay to have a surplus. “
Higgs said the number increased again in the second quarter due to the HST, increasing by $ 84.6 million.
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“There is nothing to worry about. I have full confidence in our finance team and its capabilities, ”Higgs said, referring to those who work with the finance and treasury board to present these reports.
Higgs did not respond directly to whether he would comply if the auditor general stepped in to take a look at the books, but added that he felt it was a futile exercise and said there is nothing to hide.
In the end, the surplus was around $ 89.1 million, taking into account the recently ratified agreement with 10 of the 11 CUPE locations that were negotiating contracts.
Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said New Brunswick’s situation is not unique, looking at the province’s neighbor to the west in Quebec, which cut its deficit by $ 11 million.
The auditor general’s office said it has Melanson’s letter.
“We have been working on our volume of financial audits and considering chapters for this next publication. It would be premature to comment on this material at this time, ”said a spokesman for the Attorney General’s office.
He said the office is monitoring all financial results and related reports, but did not offer a firm commitment to review the books earlier than usual.
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