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Australian Capital Territory Budget 2020–21 Summary

Source: ACT Government - Budget 2020-21

The budget outlook highlights:

  • The 2020-21 Budget has been framed in the context of the evolving challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The ACT has positive net worth in 2020-21 equivalent to 38.7 per cent of Gross State Product.
  • Job vacancies have also grown strongly, supporting the expected 4 per cent increase in employment in 2020-21.
  • For 2020-21, the Headline Net Operating Balance deficit will be $603 million, while net debt will be $4.665 billion. The Headline Net Operating Balance deficit is $432.5 million higher, and net debt is $884.5 million higher, than forecast at the time of the 2019-20 Budget Review, which was released prior to the pandemic.

The ACT economy:

  • More than 10,000 jobs were lost in the ACT when necessary health restrictions in response to the pandemic were first put in place, with the services sector most affected. As restrictions have eased and private sector economic activity has picked up, employment has now recovered to around pre-COVID levels, although the recovery has been uneven across industries.
  • The ACT’s unemployment rate of 3.7 per cent and our underemployment rate of 6.0 per cent in December 2020 are the lowest in the country, while our participation rate of 72.2 per cent is the second highest. Job vacancies have also grown strongly, supporting the expected 4 per cent increase in employment in 2020-21.
  • While the ACT’s population grew by 4,800 people, or 1.1 per cent, in 2019-20, restrictions and disruption to international travel are expected to have significant implications for net overseas migration in the short and medium term, slowing our population growth to an average of fewer than 3,000 people per year over the next four years.

The 2020-21 Business recovery efforts:

  • The cost of supporting the ACT to continue to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is anticipated to be $603 million in 2020-21, reducing to deficits of $475 million in 2021-22, $406 million in 2022-23, and $369 million in 2023-24.
  • Businesses are supported with payroll tax waivers and deferrals, waivers of licence fees, residential and commercial rates rebates, and utilities bill rebates.
  • 15 month waiver for food business registration and outdoor dining fees; and reducing liquor licensing fees by 50 per cent for an additional 12 months
  • Recovery programs including $150 million for the Sustainable Household Scheme, $100 million for the Big Canberra Battery and $50 million for the Vulnerable Household Energy Support scheme to encourage the shift to zero-emissions vehicles, and increased funding to strengthen housing and homelessness services.
  • The Government will extend the food business registration fee waiver provided as part of the COVID-19 Economic Survival Package for a further year until 31 March 2022. The outdoor dining permit fee waiver will also be extended for a further year until 30 June 2022.
  • Commercial property owners who operate businesses from premises they own will also be eligible for assistance if they have been negatively affected by COVID-19, until 31 January 2021.
  • The Government will establish a Better Regulation Taskforce to review the current business environment in the ACT and begin pursuing reforms to support Canberra’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and long-term economic growth. The Taskforce will also lead the ACT’s contribution to nation-wide regulatory reforms.
  • The Government will provide direct finance to businesses to help develop COVID-safe tourism in the ACT. Matched funding will be provided to applicants who can demonstrate they will undertake new investments that will result in a positive return to the Territory.

Continue reading the full Budget 2020-21