Merrill Lynch economist calls on Abbott to release costings

PRESSURE is mounting on the Coalition to reveal its policy costings after a respected economist claimed it would need to find $30 billion in savings.

The $30 billion black hole was identified in Bank of America Merrill Lynch chief economist Saul Eslake's analysis of the Coalition's spending commitments and budget cuts.

He said while the figure was well short of Labor's claims of a $70 billion shortfall, it was still "a very significant figure".

Mr Eslake excluded the Coalition's paid parental leave policy from his work, given Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's promise it was budget neutral.

Mr Abbott told reporters in Darwin while he respected Mr Eslake, his figures were way off the mark.

"I have a fair bit of time for Saul Eslake. He's a very credible economist but he's not infallible," Mr Abbott said.

"There are quite a number of errors in the work that he's put out today."

Shadow assistant treasurer Mathius Cormann even issued a statement pointing out examples of how Mr Eslake's analysis was "wrong in some fundamental ways".

"Mr Eslake is not right to say that there is still a further $30 billion of savings to be found by the Coalition. In fact, the Coalition's remaining savings task is far below what Mr Eslake has indicated," the statement read.

Mr Cormann said the analysis had succeeded in exposing Labor's $70 billion "lie".

Treasurer Chris Bowen denied the analysis was embarrassing for Labor.

"It's an embarrassment for Mr Abbott, no question about that," Mr Bowen said.

"There is no way of easily fixing a $30 billion black hole or a $70 billion black hole. Now if Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey say that figure is wrong, if they're saying Mr Eslake is wrong, well show us your figures. Put in your costings ... and do so today."

The Coalition has said it will not reveal its policy costings until the final week of the election campaign.

Topics:  economics federal election 2013 tony abbott

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