A parliamentary budget officer's work is never done

We don’t yet know when the Liberals will get another opposition day, or what they’ll end up doing with it when they’ve got one. But after observing the barely concealed scepticism that government members displayed towards the Parliamentary Budget Officer during his appearance at Finance earlier this week, if ITQ had a vote, she’d go with one of the following two motions already on the Order Paper:

February 3, 2009 — Mr. McCallum (Markham—Unionville) — That the accountability reports to Parliament on the implementation and impacts of the January 27th Budget, as required by the amendment proposed by the Official Opposition and adopted by this House on February 2nd, be automatically and immediately referred to the Parliamentary Budget Officer for his urgent examination and analysis; and that the Parliamentary Budget Officer provide his opinion to Parliament on each of these accountability reports as quickly as possible.

February 3, 2009 — Mr. McCallum (Markham—Unionville) — That, in the opinion of the House: (a) the Parliamentary Budget Officer is an independent officer of the Library of Parliament who reports to the Speakers of both Chambers and is, subject to direction from the Speakers and the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament, entitled to decide how to fulfill his mandate and obligations as set out in section 79.2 of the Parliament of Canada Act; (b) the Parliamentary Librarian must ensure that the overall control and management of the Library of Parliament facilitates the ability of the Parliamentary Budget Officer to fulfill that mandate and obligations; and (c) the government should co-operate fully with the Parliamentary Budget Officer on all matters with respect to which he is called upon to report.

In other PBO-related news, the ever-inquisitive Kevin Page is asking the Canada Revenue Agency to provide his office with monthly copies of the tax summary revenue report, which will “aid [their] analysis of current-year tax revenues”. The office has also posted its latest briefing note, which addresses the following questions:

• Do the economic assumptions presented to Parliament represent a reasonable basis for fiscal projections and are the economic risks adequately characterised?
• Do the status quo fiscal projections provided to Parliament represent a reasonable basis for planning and are the fiscal risks adequately characterised? Is the size of the fiscal stimulus appropriately measured?
• What is the Government’s structural budget balance given the measures introduced in Budget 2009?
• Are the fiscal and implementation risks of measures proposed in Budget 2009 adequately characterised?

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