Although government revenue is up nine percent, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday the government is not satisfied with collections.
At the halfway point of this fiscal year, aggregate revenue totaled $1.1 billion, representing 42 percent of the government’s annual projection for collections.
“No, we’re never satisfied until we’re tracking ahead of the budget, but it is in comparison to the previous year at the same time, a nine percent increase in revenue. So, from that perspective yes, we’re doing okay. The remainder of this fiscal year to June will tell us where we are in terms of our projection, because this is the heavy revenue period right now, as business licenses and real property tax and all these fees are collected and so we’ll know in another month or two where we are in terms of achieving our overall target,” Turnquest told Guardian Business.
But while revenue is increasing, expenditure, which is now eight percent higher at this mid-year mark – representing 46 percent of annual projections due to Hurricane Dorian – is expected to ramp up in the last half of the fiscal year.
“So, we’re still tracking behind where we anticipate being at the end of the year, which is good but we do expect that expenditure will start to spike in the next couple of months as we get into the meat of this recovery effort. But we’re doing the best we can to manage that, while ensuring that citizens get the support that they need in order to rebuild and get their lives back together,” the deputy prime minister said.
And while economic growth is projected to remain flat this fiscal year due mainly to increased expenditure and borrowing as a result of Hurricane Dorian, Turnquest is still optimistic that the country can possibly surpass recent growth trends.
“I think overall the numbers suggest that the economy is doing relatively well. It’s not growing as we would like obviously but it is relatively stable and we’re seeing signs of growth. That is important because over the last few years we have seen positive growth, 1.4 percent in the first year and 1.8 percent in the second year, which is beating our average of one percent. And I think this year had it not been for this storm, I think we would have really been looking at some good numbers this year,” he said.
“I think we probably would have broken the two percent growth numbers and we still might. But overall I think the fundamentals of the economy are still very sound, the revenue performance is strong, we’re at 42 percent of our budgeted revenue collections for the year driven by VAT and cross-border taxes, again good indicators of what the economy is doing.”