National leader Judith Collins has rejected a call by Finance Minister Grant Robertson to rip up her party's fiscal plan and start again, claiming it had only one error which had been corrected.
She labelled Robertson the "Minister of Misinformation" and challenged him to produce his own fiscal plan.
Robertson has itemised several errors and also says the operating allowances, an unallocated pot for future spending, are too small to cover basic increases next year and the one after.
He said National finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith was making mistakes about mistakes in the party's plan.
"These errors are ruining National's credibility," he said. "Judith Collins needs to sort it out. She needs to tell Paul Goldsmith to rip up his budget and start again."
Goldsmith said Robertson was trying to avoid talking about policies.
"Grant Robertson will say anything to avoid talking about the substance of National's plan and the fact that his plan has 15 years of budget deficits and is increasing taxes during a downturn rather than offering relief. "
Goldsmith has acknowledged two errors - both caused by using Treasury figures from the Budget, rather than the recent Pre-election Fiscal and Economic Update (Prefu).
These are the so-called budget bungles as outlined by Robertson:
• Super Fund: National used Treasury's May Budget figures to estimate how much it would save from suspending contributions to the Super Fund rather than the more recent August Prefu figures and it was $4 billion out.
Goldsmith accepts the error and the consequence is that National's debt track would see net debt lowered to 36 per cent of GDP instead of 35 per cent by 2034 (from an expected peak of 54 per cent in 2024).
• Capital allowance: Amount allowed for capital allowance over 10 years is out by $88 million because some figures were based on the Budget rather than Prefu forecasts.
Goldsmith accepts the error but says it has same impact as rounding up or down.
• Transport funding: Whether this is an error or a question of labelling is disputed but involves $3.9 billion of transport funding. The plan says National will get $3.9 billion of its $31 billion 10-year spend from the NZ Upgrade Plan – but that no longer has any unallocated funds from which to draw. Its unallocated $4 billion was rolled into the multi-year capital allowances in the Budget.
Goldsmith says it was a matter of labelling source funds and there was no error. Its advisers NZIER told Stuff there is no shortfall and that no extra borrowing would be needed to meet the $31 billion plan. Goldsmith says it will be using an additional $3.9 billion from the National Land Transport Fund (on top of $6.3 billion stated in the plan) taking the total of $10.2 billion over 10 years from the NLTF, which is funded by petrol tax and road user charges. He says there is nothing unusual in Governments reprioritising transport projects.
• Forgone tax: Not factoring in lost tax income from the Super Fund as a result of suspending contributions.
Goldsmith says that is not an error. It was not put into the fiscal plan but no one would reasonably expect second or third order consequences to be built into such a plan, just as it had not built in the additional tax it expected to get from higher economic growth under National.
Robertson has also criticised National's plan for having left itself with a net operational allowances of just $800 million and $700 million for the next two year respectively, before increasing to $3.9 billion in Budget 2023 and $4.7 billion the year after.
National's plan sets out $1.14 billion new spending in education, $998 million in health and funding promises in other areas over four years.
Goldsmith: "We firmly believe we have enough headroom to cover those costs in our first budget. We show can do that particularly given the lower population growth expected and the fact we have already allocated some extra money to both health and education."
Goldsmith and Robertson go head to head tomorrow morning at the Herald's Mood of the Boardroom.