The Cayman Islands public sector will end its current budget year with a $145 million operating surplus, Premier Alden McLaughlin told a private audience at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Tuesday night, noting that the total surplus over three years is $399 million.
The premier said this is the third consecutive surplus his Progressives-led administration has managed during its three years in office.
A budget operating surplus is achieved when revenues are higher than expenses for the year.
Mr. McLaughlin made his remarks at a Progressives party fundraiser, and the comments were distributed to the media on Wednesday.
The figures revealed by Mr. McLaughlin for the budget year ending June 30 were projections. However, with only about a month to go before government closes the books, they represent a good picture of government’s financial position.
Government revenues and expenses increased significantly from what was projected when the 2015/16 budget was released. Central government expenses increased from an anticipated $552.8 million to $563 million.
However, revenues for central government also increased, from a projected $661 million to $696 million.
The overall earnings of government statutory authorities and government-owned companies boosted the central government operating surplus of $133 million by a further $12 million, reaching $145 million for the year – assuming no major government expenses come up before June 30.
“It is … worth noting that over our last three budgets, we have generated net surpluses totaling $399 million dollars,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “We did this despite giving up tens of millions annually in tax reductions and in correcting inequalities in civil servants’ salaries and more.”
Mr. McLaughlin noted that the former United Democratic Party government managed a $41 million total surplus during its last three budget periods.
Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush has long said that Mr. McLaughlin is taking credit for the results of a raft of revenue measures his former UDP government instituted after the Progressives government of 2005-2009 left office in dire straits.
Mr. Bush has said the former People’s Progressive Movement racked up an $81 million operating deficit during its last year in office, 2008/09, which Mr. Bush’s administration spent years correcting.
The opposition leader has also questioned why government is not using some of its surplus funds to assist needy Caymanians.
“It’s always good that we have a surplus, but you can’t save up a surplus and leave your people without electricity and without work,” Mr. Bush said last year.
Mr. McLaughlin noted that the central government’s overall debt has been reduced to $503 million from $574 million when the Progressives took office in mid-2013.
A fund has also been established to pay off the territory’s future debts, of which about $260 million is due in 2019. The fund now has $17 million, the premier said.