Today, (Tuesday) the Alberta government will release its budget. The big news will be how this government plans to deal with a projected $4.3 billion deficit. Absent on this day will be the release of the long-awaited oil and gas competitiveness review (royalties).
Stelmach first promised to release the review by last fall, then by the end of 2009, and then by late January. Now we are told the review will be released only after the provincial budget is released next Tuesday.
Now I may be overly analytical, but royalties, particularly royalties on natural gas, are the foundation of Alberta’s income. No household can prepare a proper budget without first knowing the source and/or accuracy of its income. Governments, no matter what they say, are no different. Hence, Tuesday’s budget will be meaningless without knowing whether or not the royalty structure will change, and how it will change.
This brings us to a very legitimate question. Is the government actually unaware, and preparing a budget without having a clue what it plans to do with royalties, or are they being deceitful and deliberately withholding the information in order to prevent intelligent questions?