OBA MPs stomped the floor to applaud Finance Minister Bob Richards when he told MPs: “The overall deficit…is revised down by an estimated $7.8 million, a 3.6% variance. The forecast deficit for the financial year ending March 31, 2016 of $212.2 million is $87.5 million less than the 2014-15 deficit.

As of March 31st, 2016 he said: “Gross domestic debt will stand at $2.335 billion and debt, net of the Sinking Fund will stand at $2.217 billion.

“In 2015-16 the Government executed a US$200,000,000 2-year term loan facility agreement with the Bank of NT Butterfield & Son Limited to meet some of its financing requirements. As at March 31, 2016 the Government has drawn $150 million on this facility.

The Sinking Fund balance is projected to be approximately $118.2 million at the end of 2015-16.

“In 2016-17 certain Government notes will mature. Government will draw from the Sinking Fund to pay off $90 million in Private Placement Notes. This will reduce our debt interest costs by $5.3 million.

“The financing required to fund the 2016-17 deficit is estimated at 199.4 million. Governmen will have to incur new borrowing of $150 million as a portion of the deficit can be funded from the Butterfield Loan facility.

“As at March 31st 2017, it is estimated that gross public debt will stand at $2.444 billion, and debt, net of the Sinking Fund will be $2.357 billion…

“As of March 31, 2016, the net debt-revenue ratio will be 237%, and the debt service cost-revenue ratio will be 18%. There is still much work to do to bring our situation into line with our targets.”

The Minister also said: “Government fees for an array of services provided to the public will be increased by about 4% for most fees and the anticipated increased yield should net $12million.

“Government anticipates $3mi in receipts from sale of government property that is surplus to requirements.”

By Ceola Wilson

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