Turnquest optimistic about meeting fiscal targets
While the government appears unlikely to meet its revenue goals for the 2018/2019 budget year, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday that the government is tracking in the right direction and is expected to meet its year-end targets.
Turnquest was responding to the data revealed in the “Nine Months Consolidated Fiscal Snapshot and Report on Budgetary Performance”, which was compiled and released by the Ministry of Finance on Monday.
“We have not reached our goal yet,” Turnquest told reporters outside Cabinet.
“Obviously, we have to wait for the full year but we are certainly tracking in the right direction.
“We are at least 51 percent down on deficit year over year, which is a very positive sign.
“We continue to be very cautious about making any bold statements in this regard because, again, we still have three months to go and as you know anything can happen, and even as we go into the hurricane season anything can happen.
“But as we look at the trends and we’ve done our forecast for the end of the year, we do believe that we will meet our target for the end of the year and put us on the right path to realizing our three-year consolidation plan to deliver a turn around in our fiscal outlook into the future.
“Again this has been an exercise in changing the way we think about government finances and spending.
“It is about putting in place the fiscal laws and rules that will cause discipline to be natural, and it’s a bit of cultural acclimation if you will to operating in a disciplined environment, ensuring that any programs or policy that we implement are backed by sound fiscal analysis; again so we don’t end up with the kind of runaway spending that we’ve done in the past.”
According to the report revenue increased by $218.7 million, representing a 15 percent year over year (YOY) improvement.
However, at the end of the third quarter, the government had only collected 63.7 percent of its budgeted revenue for the fiscal year.
The outstanding amount is a significant one given that the Minnis administration was only able to collect $600 million in revenue in the third quarter.
The government would have to collect over $960 million from April through June this year to meet the $2.6 billion in revenue projection laid out in its 2018/2019 annual budget.
As of March 2019, the deficit stood at $129.2 million, compared to $174.2 million at the end of December 2018.
The GFS deficit for 2018/2019 is projected at $237 million.
The report also noted that expenditure was over $1.8 billion, 63 percent of the projected total for the year, at the end of March.
The amount represented an increase of five percent compared to the same time last year.
The government attributed the increase to growth in recurrent expenditure, as well as “increases associated with seasonal expenditures and other operating costs”.