The province’s four-year plan to create a strong foundation for all Nova Scotians to build a better future is working.
The Public Accounts for 2012-13 show, for the fourth year in a row, prudent management of the province’s finances is putting Nova Scotia back on solid fiscal footing.
“Our plan has done what it was designed to do,” said Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald. “We restored fiscal discipline and presented a balanced budget for 2013-14, while still protecting and making important investments in the services Nova Scotians value most.
“Thanks to the help of all Nova Scotians, we will be in a position to improve the lives of everyone in this province through initiatives like the HST reduction in 2014 and 2015, as well as capitalize on the era of opportunities coming our way.”
The 2012-13 deficit improved. It was $53.9 million less than forecast at $302.5 million.
For the fourth consecutive year, departmental spending from the general revenue fund was under budget, by $83.6 million. This was $30 million lower than forecast. Virtually all departments underspent.
Total revenues in 2012-13 were a higher-than-expected $10 billion, an increase of $153.6 million over estimate and $341.6 million over 2012.
Total expenses for 2012-13 were $10.4-billion. This represents an increase of $244.9-million over estimate, primarily from consolidating government entity expenses not funded by government.
“Credit-rating agencies like Dominion Bond Rating Service recently upgraded Nova Scotia’s long-term credit rating to its highest ever, an A (high), in recognition of our province’s return to a balanced budget in 2013-14 through strong fiscal discipline and improvement, and our success in implementing expenditure management initiatives,” added Ms. MacDonald.
Additional appropriations of $254.6 million, including a final year-end appropriation of $8.6 million, were approved. The money supported the historic purchase of Bowater Mersey Paper Company forestry lands, helped keep grades Primary to 3 class sizes low by hiring more teachers, supported universities, provided disaster relief to flood victims and covered accounting changes.
Net debt was $14 billion. Net debt-to-GDP came in just slightly above forecast at 36.7 per cent.
Interest expenses, which are expected to remain stable, took only 9.1 per cent of revenues in 2012-13 compared with about 15.6 per cent in the period 2001-08. The province has also adjusted the structure and maturing schedule of its debt to improve consistency and management. This has caused debt rating agencies like Moody’s Investors Service to say Nova Scotia’s debt is expected to decline gradually over the near term.
“Through a world-wide recession and a soft recovery we have maintained spending discipline and sensible financial management and sought out opportunities to improve the lives of Nova Scotians,” said Ms. MacDonald. “We have brought jobs here through activities like the IBM agreement and controlled the things that we can control.
“As a result, credit rating agencies have noted that Nova Scotia held its ground in the downturn and demonstrated prudent fiscal management throughout the recovery.”
The auditor general has provided an unqualified opinion of the public accounts for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013. In his opinion, the 2012-13 financial statements fairly present the consolidated financial position of the province in accordance with Canadian generally accepted accounting principles for the public sector.
Public Accounts Volume 1, containing the consolidated financial statements for the province, Volume 2 – Agencies and Funds, and Volume 3 – Supplementary Information, were released today, July 31. To view the documents, go to www.novascotia.ca/finance .
Government entities also released individual compensation over $100,000 as required by the Public Sector Compensation Disclosure Act, introduced by the government in 2010.
“For the second year, we are ensuring Nova Scotians have better information about how their tax dollars are being spent in the public sector,” said Ms. MacDonald.