Australia’s Treasury secretary John Fraser has warned that the nation’s coveted AAA credit rating could be at risk. Speaking at the Sydney Institute, Fraser urged the Federal Government not to be complacent on maintaining the nation’s credit rating. He also called for urgent steps to curb Federal spending.
“I know it’s self-evident, but it’s important that Australia maintain its top credit rating which helps contain the costs associated with servicing public debt,” Fraser said. He added that Australia’s credit rating depends on its credible fiscal consolidation and transition into a diverse economy, reports ABC News. Australia is one of the 10 countries in the world with a triple A credit rating from all the top rating agencies such as Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull played down the comments of the Treasury Secretary. Turnbull said media exaggerated those comments. Speaking to Melbourne radio, the PM said, “he didn’t say that our AAA rating was at risk, the media have written that up perhaps a little bit more sensationally than it warranted.”
“At the time of MYEFO … which is the halfway review of where the budget’s tracking, the ratings agencies were very impressed and gave a very positive review of the Government’s strategy to move back into fiscal balance,” Turnbull added.
Turnbull’s optimism was shared by Annette Beacher, the chief Asia-Pacific strategist at TD Securities in Singapore. She told The World Today that Australia’s credit rating is safe. “Our AAA rating is not at risk. Our budget metrics are certainly low and consistent with AAA,” the anlayst said.
To salvage the credit rating, Fraser wanted major cuts in spending, followed by tough economic decisions. He said the federal spending has escalated since 2007 by an average 3.5 percent. This contrasts with the average 3 percent spurt in spending in the 1990s.
Treasurer Scott Morrison also joined the credit rating issue and said Australia’s triple-A credit rating was not facing any risk, reports Sky News. Talking to reporters in Sydney, Morrison said: “No, it’s not and that is what the ratings agency said when we brought down the mid-year budget update.”