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Wellbeing budget work coming apart at the seams

Published: Wed 20 Feb 2019 06:47 PM
Wellbeing budget work coming apart at the seams
The Treasury Cost Benefit Analysis tool used to assess budget bids contains a significant error meaning wildly different monetary values appear for the same item depending on which order the user chooses to sort the data into, National’s Finance spokesperson Amy Adams says.
“We found errors. Simply put, if the spreadsheet is changed to alphabetical order or, for example, ranked smallest to largest value, the values change. Avoiding heart disease, for example, can be turned from having a negative $8000 ‘value’, to a zero value, to being a positive $45,000 value just by changing the order in which the values appear.
“These errors weren’t in the 2017 version of the CBAx model. They’re new under this Government.
“This calls into question the veracity of all Budget bids that have been prepared using this spreadsheet, as Treasury requires agencies to do and as Grant Robertson confirmed is the case.
“In addition to this serious error, Grant Roberston has still failed to explain why the model being used for his ‘Wellbeing’ budget values making contact with a neighbour as being ‘worth’ twice as much as avoiding diabetes, or a number of similar comparisons.
“For this year’s Budget to have any credibility the basis for these new and subjective assessments of social value must be justified and the Finance Minister must require all existing Budget 2019 bids that have used the Treasury’s CBAx data to be redone to ensure they don’t reflect the significant errors in the model”.

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