Government expended well over a quarter billion dollars in debt repayments in the 2017/2018 financial year, more than it had done in the previous year, according to Senator Darcy Boyce.
Speaking in the Upper House today during debate on the 2018-2019 Estimates, Boyce, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, explained that “debt service over the last few years has tended to increase faster than anything else because we had to do more borrowing”.
However, he argued that outside of the debt amortization Government expenditure had remained relatively steady while revenue increased slightly, which he said augured well for decreasing the country’s overall deficit.
“Under that basic structure of the public service there has not been any runaway spending . . . on transfers, goods and services, on wages, salaries and pensions,” Boyce said pointing out that when debt amortization is included the current expenditure for 2016-2017 was $3.8 billion, and in 2017-18 it shot up to $4.3 billion.
He stressed that expenditure had gone up because “our debt repayments for 2017-18 was $350 million more than what it was in 2016 to 2017”.
However, the Government Senator said, “when we pull away that increase in amortization we come to a position where our actual expenditure in 2017-18 was very much on target to what it was in 2016-17. The point is that there has not been any runaway spending on the core services of Government when we compare 2016-17 to 2017-18.”
According to Boyce, the wages bill for 2017-18 was $723 million down from $726 million in 2016/2017 while the goods and services bill remained constant at $393 million.
However, transfers to statutory corporations and other state-owned entities went up from $1.14 billion in the previous financial year to $1.19 billion in 2017/2018.
At the same time, Boyce reported that there was a $250 million increase in revenue for the 2017/2018 financial year taking it to $3 billion, up from $2.75 billion in the 2016/2017 financial year.
“The revenue seems to be going in the direction we want it to be going if we are going to meet expenses and close the fiscal gap,” he said.