WA govt splurges $8.3B on capital works

That spend is more than one-third of the $23.8 billion the government expects to spend over the next four years.Treasurer Troy Buswell said the Treasury had tightened the definition of capital spending, which he argued made the figures even more impressive.He said things such as Keystart loans and grants to local government were no longer included as capital spending.There are also initiatives to prop up business investment through already announced measures such as streamlining project approvals. The $8.3 billion spending includes:$1 billion on school improvement spending, including the construction of nine schools,
$130 million to complete the multi-purpose berth and bulk loading facility at Utah Point, Port Hedland, and
$572 million on health infrastructure, up $70 million on 2008-09.
Longer-term projects include the $300 million Pilbara Revitalisation Plan and $220 million to double the size of the Ord irrigation area; $147 million to extend the northern suburbs railway to Brighton; and $655 million over the next five years to provide another 1657 prison beds.There also will be $316 million for more than 1000 new dwellings.The government is reintroducing the developer’s concession for land tax, which was abolished in 2003.Under the concession, a developer can pay land tax and Metropolitan Region Improvement Tax on the lower undeveloped value of land holdings rather than the full subdivided value of lots for one year after the creation of the lots. Small businesses will be given a one-off payroll tax rebate. A business with a payroll of $1.6 million will get a full rebate. That rebate decreases on a sliding scale until cutting out at a payroll of $3.2 million. According to the Treasury, about 33% of payroll tax paying employers will get the full rebate and another 20% will get a part benefit. There is a $47.4 million training and skills package over the next three years. Part of that involves a full rebate for workers’ compensation insurance premiums on first-year apprentices and trainees.Buswell said he expected the state to record 8% growth for 2008-09 but negative growth in 2009-10 and 2010-11 before positive growth returned in 2011-12. He also expects the state to retain its AAA credit rating over the next four years, thanks, he says, to the “tough decisions” the government has taken.Interestingly, the government neglected to factor in Commonwealth funding for the Oakajee port and the Northbridge Link project.Buswell said the financial impact of the state putting in its share of the funds for those projects would add about 1.5% to the net debt to revenue ratio – keeping the AAA rating.

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