Government’s first quarter budget surplus larger than expected

The public sector’s $216.8 million budget surplus in the first quarter of 2019 was $44.4 million higher than estimated, the Ministry of Finance said on Friday. In addition, government had more cash in the bank with $747.1 million in cash and deposits during the period that ended on 30 March.

The higher surplus and larger bank balances were influenced by both higher revenues and lower expenditures. Total public sector revenues of $373.7 million were about $30.7 million higher than expected.

At the same time government spent $3.5 million less on civil service personnel costs than budgeted. Purchases of supplies and consumable goods and services fell $8.8 million below the budgeted amount and the performance of investment revenues was also more favourable than predicted.

Finance Minister Roy McTaggart said he was pleased that first quarter results had exceeded budget expectations and was grateful to the civil service for its contribution in saving government money.

“All things being equal, it bodes well for the remainder of the year,” he said, adding that government would continue its fiscal vigilance throughout the financial year “to maintain improvements on budget expectations”.

Compared to the same period last year, total revenues of core government have increased $28.0 million, whereas total expenses of core government have risen by $9.3 million.

The first quarter-generated, coercive revenue of $358.1 million was 8% ($25.3 million) higher than the first quarter of 2018. This was mainly due to 6% higher domestic levies on goods and services and 25% higher import duty revenues. In contrast, first quarter levies on property have declined by 12% ($2.2 million) compared to last year.

Government’s debt stood at $417.4 million as of 31 March 2019. This is $31.2 million lower than one year ago. The debt balance continues to decline and government intends to repay its outstanding US$312 million bond obligation in November 2019.

The unfunded pension liability with respect to the defined benefit portion of public sector pension plans was $411.1 million in the first quarter.

The unaudited quarterly financial report was published in the Gazette on Friday.

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