British Columbia’s Public Accounts were issued in the final hours before government would have violated the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act. The five month gap between fiscal year end and release of financial information to the public is largely explained by the Horgan Government’s disinterest in both transparency and accountability.
Another factor is the argument between the Ministry of Finance and the Auditor General about the AG’s unwillingness to provide an unqualified opinion as to fairness of the province’s financial statements. The issue is not small, as explained by AG Michael Pickup:
Government’s method of accounting for those contributions [from other governments or externally restricted funds from non-government sources] represents a departure from Canadian Public Sector Accounting Standards… Had Government made an adjustment to correct for this departure in the current year…, surplus for the year and accumulated surplus would have been higher by $6.48 billion…Source: BC Public Accounts, Independent Auditor’s Report
Politicians prefer not to show a large surplus because that would increase pressures for tax reductions or further spending on public services.
Public Accounts reveal a 132% increase in government subsidies to fossil fuel producers. Royalty deductions to reduce producer costs were $1.517 billion in FY 2022, up from $0.654 billion in the preceding year. Gas producers have accrued credits worth $2.855 billion that may be used to reduce future payments to government.
Along with Public Accounts for the year ended March 31, we are finally able to see BC Hydro’s annual report. It provides interesting information.
IPP payments during FY were up by $119 million (8%) to $1,522 billion. BC Hydro’s contractual obligations for future private power purchases are almost $50 billion in 2022,
Rising purchases from IPPs, along with soft export markets, means that BC Hydro produces less at its own facilities, despite large expenditures to install more efficient generating equipment.
The private power program forced on BC Hydro has had enormous negative consequences for citizens of BC. While IPP prices rise with inflation, the cost of power from the utility’s own facilities remains stable at a fraction of private power costs.