Over the past year, the Government has stood with the people of New South Wales as the State has confronted some of the biggest challenges in its history. Together, residents of New South Wales have come out stronger on the other side. This Budget continues to invest in people, not just to overcome great challenges, but to deliver transformational reforms that will build a brighter future for the State.
The NSW economy continues to bounce back strongly from the COVID-19 pandemic and the storms and floods.
High vaccination rates, ongoing economic support measures and the States shift to living with COVID-19 have meant that the impact of the Omicron strain has been lower compared with previous outbreaks.
Growth in the domestic economy (known as State Final Demand) is expected to be 23⁄4 per cent in 2021-22 despite these challenges. In addition, the employment decline recorded during the Delta outbreak has been recovered, with employment more than 130,000 higher than immediately before the onset of COVID-19 in February 2020. The NSW unemployment rate has fallen to a historically low level of 4.0 per cent in May 2022.
Building a brighter future for NSW families
To build a brighter future for families across the State, the NSW Government is investing in what matters. This includes strengthening frontline services, delivering a record infrastructure program, and taking pressure off families and small businesses.
In the medium-to-longer term, the Budget supports sustainable economic growth with a focus on increasing productivity and participation. This will support New South Wales to preserve and strengthen the State's asset base to ensure economic prosperity, while capturing the opportunities associated with the global shift to a low-carbon, environmentally sustainable, resilient and inclusive economy.
The Budget remains on track to return to surplus in 2024-25, which will strengthen the State's capacity to respond to future shocks. This is as forecast in the 2021-22 budget, notwithstanding the challenges of the Delta and Omicron outbreaks, floods and global inflationary pressures. Rebuilding fiscal sustainability for future generations supports ongoing investment in better services and allows the Government to continue delivering its record $112.7 billion infrastructure program across the State.
Maintaining sustainable levels of debt over the next decade is at the forefront of the NSW Government's fiscal strategy. The 2022-23 NSW Budget supports the economy, with growth resulting in higher State revenues and implementation of measures to improve fiscal sustainability. For example, in 2021-22 and 2022-23, $11 billion of debt will be retired through the NSW Generations Fund. This was possible only through the sale of the State's residual stake in WestConnex for $11.1 billion.