$25 million in the black
Good news confirmed in GNWT interim budget report

Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 30/98) - The GNWT's finance minister announced last week that for the second consecutive year the government would see a surplus in its budget.

How much of a surplus John Todd would not say. But on Thursday, the GNWT's comptroller general tabled his financial report confirming a GNWT surplus of $24.3 million, almost double the 12.4 million surplus predicted in February 1998.

"There's been an improvement over what we were forecasting in February largely because of changes in the formula grant," said comptroller general Lew Voytilla on Monday.

"To put it into perspective, it's a $25 million surplus on $1.2 billion worth of spending," he added.

According to Voytilla's unaudited interim report for the year ending March 31, overall government expenditures were down by $15 million from the previous fiscal year.

Spending, however, was up $37 million in the social envelope in the department's of justice, housing, health and social services and education, culture and employment. That's $749 million in spending for 97-98 from $712 million in 1996-97.

The level of grants and contributions increased from $562 million to $611 million, said Voytilla.

Infrastructure spending was reduced by $46 million.

One of the largest reductions in Voytilla's report was in salaries and wages which were $33 million less than the previous year.

The GNWT also collected almost $27 million more in taxes over the previous year.

"We got a better result last year. We balanced our budget which means our accumulated deficit at this point in time is down to, I think, 17 million bucks. That's good news. We're in the hole less than we anticipated being in the hole and if we can come in with a balanced budget this year or close to it, that means we've had a couple years of having a balanced budget."

The final audited GNWT budget should be tabled in the House during the winter session.