Premier says government finances looking up

The Cayman Islands ended the midway point of its current
budget year with an $18 million overall operating surplus, according to
unaudited figures presented by Premier McKeeva Bush last week.

The Premier, echoing comments made by Governor Duncan
Taylor earlier in the day on Wednesday, was hedging his bets on ending the year
with an operating surplus. But he said the news thus far in the 2010/11 fiscal
year was extremely positive for the Cayman Islands.

“The solid performance of the government and the rest of
the public sector in the first six months may not necessarily continue at the
same rate in the last six months of the financial year,” Mr. Bush said in a
broacast
address on Wednesday.

The government’s
budget year runs from 1 July to 30 June of the following year. Typically,
Cayman takes in the majority of its revenues from tourism and the financial
services industry between January and April each year.

According to the
Premier, both the central government service and statutory authorities ended
December with overall operating services, meaning the entities took in more
money than they spent in the period between July and December.

Mr. Bush said total
central government operating revenues for the six months were $267 million, an
improvement of $12 million from what was initially budgeted for
the period.

Operating expenses
for central government were $236 million, a decrease of $17 million from
initially budgeted spending, leaving government about $29 million to the good
when it comes to central operations.

The net operating
surplus of all statutory authorities and government companies was about $1
million, the Premier said.

Financing expenses
for government- what it has to pay to settle current debts – cost about $14
million through first half of the financial year.

Central government itself had an unaudited surplus
for the half-year of $17 million which was significantly better than the
expected deficit for the half-year of $14 million dollars,” the Premier said.

Overall, Cayman’s public
sector – including statutory authorities and government companies – came out
with $18 million to spare, rather than the deficit which was initially
forecast.

“These very
encouraging results did not happen by chance,” Mr. Bush said. “The expenditure
results…are a direct result of a conscious effort being taken across government
and supported by the wider public sector to restrain expenditures without
jeopardising the quantity or quality of services offered to the public.”

Mr. Bush said the
good performance over the first half of the year may mean the Cayman Islands
government would have to borrow less than the $155 million it was allowed by
the United Kingdom. He said the government would continue to attempt to
minimise
borrowing expenses.

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