Premier Darrell Dexter said he was “absolutely not” told about a multi-million discrepancy in the last provincial budget.
The auditor general’s latest annual report reveals revenues were overstated in the 2012-13 budget by $27 million.
Lapointe said Department of Finance officials were informed in February, in plenty of time to adjust the budget – but they opted not to.
“We didn’t get much of an explanation for that,” said Lapointe Wednesday morning.
Lapointe’s report said the Executive Council was briefed about the discrepancy, but he said Wednesday afternoon finance officials briefed the Treasury Board – which includes four members of the Executive Council – on March 28.
Dexter said he had “no recollection” about information concerning a difference, and said it was a function of how budgets are set.
“We get data coming in on budgets every day and at some point you have to cut those points off and say this is the point at which we do all of our budget calculations,” he said.
Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald, who noted she was not finance minister at the time, said the discrepancy was accounted for in the next budget update.
“(The deficit) was projected to be $211 million,” she said. “This would have made it 238, not really that significantly a difference.”
Lapointe said Wednesday the amount of the discrepancy is irrelevant, and accuracy should be the primary concern.
“I don’t like to call $27 million insignificant,” he said. “Up to a cutoff point, every error you know about should be corrected, even the small ones can add up.”
MacDonald said the department has agreed to Lapointe’s recommendation to set a cutoff date after which no new information will be used for budgeting.
Liberal MLA Andrew Younger called the mistake a breach of parliamentary privilege.
“The government has presented a budget…that it knew at the time was false,” he said. “At the end of the day, the premier lied to the people of Nova Scotia.”
PC party leader Jamie Baillie also blasted the NDP for a “fallacy” of a budget.