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NB Finance Minister Ernie Steeves (Photo: Zoom)

Province releases first-quarter fiscal update for 2023/2024

By News Aug 28, 2023 | 2:22 PM

The province has released its first-quarter fiscal projections for 2023-24, and once again they are higher than first predicted.

Projections for the fiscal year show a surplus of $199.6 million, compared to the budgeted surplus of $40.3 million

Finance Minister Ernie Steeves says he is not seeing the same early signs of windfalls that were seen in the last few years, and he is treating this surplus cautiously.

Total revenue is projected to be $151.3 million higher than budget. The report states the improvement reflects higher conditional grant revenues, reflecting the timing of revenue under several conditional grant agreements, and higher Disaster Financial Assistance funding. Stronger-than-anticipated growth in the economy is positively impacting personal income tax revenue and harmonized sales tax revenue.

The report adds total expenses are projected to be lower than budget by $8.1 million, due to lower expenses for Service of the Public Debt and Opportunities New Brunswick, partially offset by higher expenses in Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, Justice and Public Safety, and Regional Development Corporation.

Meantime, the Official Opposition says this fiscal update comes as no surprise.

Liberal Finance Critic René Legacy says the excuses for surpluses are no different than they have been in the past, “The excuses are becoming the same as they’ve always been. It’s becoming quite apparent that this government is still not prepared to send the help or actually put some finances into helping New Brunswickers either move forward or bring this province into the kind of innovation or progress that we need.”

He adds the provincial cabinet should be having discussions and asking questions in the spring, “If we are over the $40 million or if we do significantly better after the first quarter, what could we spend it on? Where can we put it? I’m sure pretty much every department has a wish list of things that they would want done. Yet what we’re hearing is, well, we’ll start discussing it in the weeks to come. This is not new,  this has been happening pretty much since they got elected.   I’m less worried about the fact that there’s a variance in their surpluses. I’m more worried about the fact that they never seem ready for it. They’re never they’re never planning accordingly.”

Also from the fiscal update, the net debt is projected at $11.7 billion, an improvement of $145.9 million from the budget.

Net debt is down and is projected at $11.7 billion for this fiscal year.

The provincial government adds New Brunswick currently has the lowest projected net debt per capita east of Saskatchewan.

The first-quarter results are available online.


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