/R E P E A T -- Federal budget process lacks transparency, says national accountants' association in new report/

    TORONTO, July 24 /CNW/ - The Certified General Accountants Association of
Canada (CGA-Canada) says it's time for greater transparency around the budget
process, particularly with so-called surprise surpluses.
    "Two years ago, the federal government conceded that the successive,
larger-than-expected surpluses had eroded the credibility of the budget
process, yet the process hasn't materially changed," said Anthony Ariganello,
CGA-Canada's President and CEO. "The entire budget process needs to be more
transparent. It's become far too difficult for Canadians to make sense of the
practice and to fully understand how their tax dollars are being spent."
    Successive governments have identified debt reduction as a fiscal
priority and have used a portion of Canada's surpluses to pay down the
national debt. Federal program spending, however, has consistently spiked in
the last third of the fiscal year. "What becomes increasingly disquieting is
that government seems to be compelled to build in surprise surplus methodology
to pay down debt," said Rock Lefebvre, CGA-Canada's Vice-President of Research
and Standards, and author of The Federal Budget Surplus: Surprise or Strategy?
    A planned surplus is one that is incorporated into the projections
presented in the budget. A surprise surplus occurs when the actual budgetary
balance exceeds the planned surplus.
    "You have to wonder whether these surpluses have allowed governments to
be much less disciplined in their budgetary spending," Ariganello noted. "The
use of any federal surplus should be decided within the budgetary process, not
as a consequence of poor planning."
    Although program spending can often garner public support for
governments, it is not fiscally prudent to over-spend, emphasized the
association. CGA-Canada has long urged governments to demonstrate fiscal
prudence and to ensure that program spending generates the best value for
taxpayers' dollars.

    Among the report's other findings:
    -   Ottawa could have reduced the national debt by an additional
        $30 billion over the last decade, if its surprise surpluses had been
        used for that purpose.
    -   Canada's fiscal forecasting is far less accurate than that of other
    -   This country's current mix of taxes is woefully inefficient, relying
        disproportionately on personal income taxes.

    To view the report, visit cga.org/canada.

    About CGA-Canada

    CGA is the fastest-growing accounting designation in Canada. The CGA
designation focuses on integrity, ethics and the highest education
requirements. Recognized as the country's accounting business leaders, CGAs
provide strategic counsel, financial leadership, and overall direction to all
sectors of the Canadian economy.
    The Association sets standards, develops education programs, publishes
professional materials, advocates on public policy issues, and represents CGAs
nationally and internationally. The Certified General Accountants Association
of Canada represents 68,000 CGAs and students in Canada, Bermuda, the
Caribbean, Hong Kong and China.

For further information:

For further information: Taylore Ashlie, Director, Communications,
CGA-Canada, Telephone: (604) 605-5055, Cell: (604) 307-0212, Email:

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