“Treasury has not got too many estimates right..”

Before today’s UK budget I had noted that economists John Simpson and Richard Ramsey had both been critical of the Northern Ireland administration’s budgetary prowess – and, in particular, the budget projections contained in the 2008-2011 Programme for Government. Now, as the Belfast Telegraph notes, it looks like they’ve been joined by PricewaterhouseCooper’s Philip McDonagh, et al.

Businesses advisors PricewaterhouseCoopers said if there was a little jam today there would be thin gruel tomorrow following the whopping efficiency savings. PwC chief economist Philip McDonagh said the budget was one of three interlocking elements – massive borrowing, deep cuts in public spending growth and an economic recovery of “miraculous proportions”. He warned the Stormont Executive would have to review its spending priorities.

His tax expert colleague Larry Darby said for most taxpayers it would be a neutral or low-impact budget.

But Mr Darby warned: “What will worry tax experts and economists is the high level of optimism that underpins the Chancellor’s borrowings and revised public sector spending plans.

“Treasury has not got too many estimates right in the past couple of years, if they get this wrong, we really will be in trouble.”

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