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Treasurer can't deliver surplus: Deloitte

Treasurer Wayne Swan has panned an independent economic forecaster's prediction that a shortfall in mining tax revenue has sunk the federal government's much-promised budget surplus.

A Deloitte Access Economics report released on Monday warns the government's $1 billion surplus for the 2012/13 financial year is more likely to wind up as a $4 billion deficit.

It says a slowdown in China and a drop in iron ore and coal prices has hit revenue from the government's Mineral Resources Rent Tax (MRRT).

Deloitte director Chris Richardson says the mining tax was always going to be a "sensitive" part of the federal budget.

"For a couple of years now the government's had to keep scrambling and scrambling basically because the headwinds keep getting stronger," he told ABC TV.

"In recent months, it's been China that's still hurting the budget bottom line."

Mr Swan was quick to cast doubt on the Deloitte report on Monday.

"No, I certainly don't believe that it is (correct)," the treasurer told ABC radio from Mexico.

"Of course, Deloitte Access Economics doesn't always get it right."

Mr Swan said the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) projected the government remained on track to deliver a surplus in 2012/13.

Treasury forecast a $1.1 billion surplus for this financial year, a turnaround from a $43.4 billion deficit in 2011/12.

Mr Richardson said the government released the recent MYEFO "too early" instead of waiting for the first payments of the mining tax to flow in.

Initial reports suggest the tax raised zero revenue in its first three months, causing embarrassment for the government.

Mr Richardson said the government had made some "genuinely good and tough decisions" in MYEFO around the baby bonus and private health insurance, but more was needed to deliver a surplus.