More headaches in Canberra as revenue falls $7b below forecast

The government's budget woes continued to deepen in February as revenue fell $7 billion behind the official forecast for this time of year.

The government's budget woes continued to deepen in February as revenue fell $7 billion behind the official forecast for this time of year.

The previous figures for January showed revenue tracking $6 billion behind the official forecast. The government forecast $373.7 billion of revenue this financial year. So far it has collected $202.4 billion.

"The statement shows a continued write-down in government revenues, reflecting what the government has been saying for months," said a spokeswoman for Finance Minister Penny Wong on Friday.

"Tax receipts continue to be well below what was forecast in the mid-year economic outlook."

In an acknowledgment that a surplus would not only be unattainable in 2012-13 but also in future years the spokesman said the low receipts would "inevitably have a big impact in 2012-13, but they will also have an impact across the entire forward estimates."

"The write-downs are mainly due to the substantial hit to company profits as a result of the unusual divergence between the sustained high dollar and the terms of trade," the spokesman said.

Expenses were roughly in line with what was expected in the year to February, $720 million behind the tracking forecast.

"Contrary to the rhetoric from the Liberals, government spending has been restrained and is in line with our estimates," the spokeswoman said. "Since mid-2009 the government has offset all of its new spending commitments."

The figures point to an underlying cash deficit of $23.6 billion in the eight months to January rather than the expected $17.9 billion.

The October budget update forecast a surplus of $1 billion followed by surpluses in future years of $2 billion, $3 billion and $6 billion.

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