The Tasmanian Government has been taken to task by a leading economist for not providing enough detail in this year's budget papers.
As scrutiny of the budget begins at budget estimates hearings on Monday, economist Saul Eslake said Tasmania's budget papers were a long way from "best in show" compared with five other states who have handed down budgets.
"The conclusion is that Tasmania could, and should, do a lot better.," Mr Eslake said.
In other news:
He said two areas where Tasmania was more informative than other states or territories were in relation to the net operating balance and the "Policy and Parameters Statement".
"Tasmania is the only state or territory which discloses the extent to which the net operating balance (the 'bottom line' measure most commonly favoured by state Treasurers) is propped up by capital grants from the Commonwealth (this was introduced by then Treasurer Michael Aird in the 2009-10 Budget)," Mr Eslake said in a report.
"In a number of other important respects, however, Tasmania's budget papers are considerably less informative than those of other states and territories - and this year's even more so than in previous years."
Mr Eslake said Tasmanians were "in the dark" about the economy in 2022-23 and 2023-24.
"Ordinarily, annual budget papers set out Treasury forecasts for key economic variables - at a minimum, economic and employment growth, the unemployment rate, inflation and population growth.
"In this year's budget papers, Treasury says that 'the Covid-19 pandemic has created challenges for economic forecasting and has led to an increase in the level of uncertainty present in the forecasts'.
"Fair enough: no-one, least of all anyone with any experience of forecasting, could argue with that.
"But Treasury then goes on to say, 'Due to this uncertainty, forecasts have only been prepared for 2020-21 and 2021-22.
"This is, frankly, a cop-out.
"No other state or territory has used the greater uncertainty around any forecast in the current environment as an excuse not to forecast at all. Nor did the Commonwealth."
Mr Eslake said every other state and territory which had so far brought down a budget, and the Commonwealth, had presented economic forecasts for 2022-23 and 2023-24, as well as for the first two years of the forward estimates period.
"No-one is disputing that "the medium-term outlook is more uncertain" than in years gone by.
"But no other state or territory Treasury, nor the Commonwealth Treasury, is using 'greater uncertainty' as an excuse for not providing projections for key economic variables for 2022-23 and 2023-24 in their respective budget papers."
Mr Eslake said Tasmania's Treasury must have forecasts out to 2023-24, internally available to them.
'Yet either they, or the Government, have decided that those forecasts should remain a state secret - a view not shared by any other government in the country. It's really not good enough."
In contrast, Mr Eslake said the Northern Territory included forecasts out to 2023-24 for its economy.
"It does this despite there being no less uncertainty about the outlook for the Northern Territory's economy than there is around Tasmania's: and despite it having fewer economists working in its Treasury than Tasmania does."