If there was any doubt that the Liberals left the province in good fiscal shape, that was doused today with the release of the province’s audited financial statements.
Even though the province spent more than it budgeted, it took in more than expected as well, posting an operating surplus of $2.7 billion as of March 31, 2017. The operating surplus results show a $3.4-billion increase in revenue over the forecast and total expenses $1.3 billion higher than budgeted. However, these numbers do include capital spending.
“B.C.’s economy is strong because of the hard work of British Columbians,” said Finance Minister Carole James, in a press release. “It is long past time for the citizens of B.C. to share in the benefits of the strong economy they have helped create. The provincial budget update presented on Sept. 11 will demonstrate our commitment to maintaining strong economic growth, while making key, targeted investments to begin to increase affordability and supports for services that people count on most.”
Following the requirements of the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act, the surplus is applied to the provincial operating debt.
The public accounts also show a $591 million increase in overall debt. The increase comes from a $1.2 billion decrease in taxpayer-supported debt offset by an increase of $1.8 billion in self-supported debt.
Revenue from taxation was $2.8 billion higher than budgeted. This increase included $1.5 billion more than budgeted in personal income tax revenue, $853 million of which came from prior year tax adjustments. Increased taxation revenue also included $305 million more in provincial sales tax, $787 million more in property transfer tax and $212 million more in corporate income tax.
The overall provincial fiscal outlook is for continued and stable economic growth, James said.. Preliminary data shows B.C.’s real GDP grew by an estimated 3.7 per cent in 2016 and private sector economic forecasters expect B.C. to be among the top provincial economic performers this year and next.