The Victorian government believes its “sound management” of the economy has left it well placed to withstand the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but the Treasurer has predicted a 14 per cent decline in the gross state product in the June quarter.
According to Treasurer Tim Pallas, the state was on track to record a $618 million budget surplus; however, the coronavirus crisis and bushfires have significantly altered the economic forecast.
“We were on course to record our sixth-straight budget surplus, but the coronavirus has hit our economy hard — as it has every economy around the country and the world,” Mr Pallas said.
The state’s latest financial report shows a deficit for the year to March of $773 million, but the full effects of the coronavirus pandemic will be shown in later financial reports.
Mr Pallas noted that, to date, more than 50,000 businesses and up to 1 million workers have benefited from the state’s $5 billion support measures, designed to keep people in jobs and help businesses through to the other side of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Now’s not the time to be chasing surpluses. Right now we’re focused on giving Victorian families, businesses and communities the support they need to get through to the other side of this crisis,” he said.
On Thursday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported a drop in employment by 594,300 people between March and April as a result of the coronavirus lockdown measures.
The state-by-state data revealed that 127,100 Victorians lost their jobs in April, taking the unemployment rate up to 6 per cent from 5.2 per cent in March.