Thursday, 30 August 2012 02:31
By caribarena news
Antigua St. John’s - The Fiscal performance of Antigua & Barbuda has improved by some 42 percent says Finance Minister Hon. Harold Lovell as he presented an update on the nation’s financial standings for the second time this year.
“We remain cautiously optimistic about economic recovery... Antigua & Barbuda remains committed to the goal of long term economic stability,” Lovell said from a head table that included Ralph Warner – Commissioner of IRD, Fitzmaurice Christian – Director of Business Development Planning at the Antigua & Barbuda Investment Authority, and Raju Boddu – Comptroller of Customs.
In providing the numbers, Lovell said the country’s total revenue collected for the first half of the year stands at some $329.8 million, an increase of 3.1 percent over the same period in 2011.
He credits the Antigua & Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST), Stamp Duty and Income Tax.
ABST is said to have netted some $111.6 million for the year while stamp duties increased by 224 percent from $8.6 million to $27million over the same period one year ago.
Personal Income Tax (PIT) was also said to have performed better in the first half of 2012 having increased from $18.5M to $20.5M in a year. This increase is credited partially to the recently imposed taxation of employees’ benefits and allowances.
“We realised an increase in revenue of $2.0 million from $18.5 million at the end of June 2011 to $20.5 million at the end of June 2012. This improvement is due to a 34.0 percent increase in the second quarter of 2012 over the same period in 2011. A change in the PIT base to include allowances and benefits is responsible for this improvement in revenue intake,” Lovell said.
Further, the finance minister revealed that primary expenditure for the first half of the year declined by $1 million, from $310 million to $309 million over the same period in 2011.
This includes expenditure on wages and salaries, goods and services, and capital projects and excludes interest payments on Government debt.
And even with the $1 million reduction, Lovell says government was still able to honour contractual obligations of upgrades in salaries and allowances for some staff in government. New teachers were even employed. The new increased expenditure in this regard stands at some $5 million.
In the meantime, capital expenditure for the first half of 2012 amounted to $6.6 million and government notes this to be some 66 percent less than the $19.4 million spent in the first half of 2011.
“…Capital expenditure actually grew by 113 percent from $3.1 million for the period ending June 2011 to $6.6 million for the same period in 2012…total interest payments on Government debt remained constant at $35 million for the period under review,” the minister said.
Central government debt is said to have declined by $100 million from $2.3 billion for the period ending June 2011, to $2.2 billion for the period ending June 2012, while government guaranteed debt increased by $100 million from $400 million to $500 million.
In providing an economic development summary, the Finance and Economy Minister said confidently that there has been some improvement in economic activity in the twin-island state that can be clearly seen through 4 percent increase in stay over visitors in the first half of the year. This increase comes as a result of a 14 percent growth in overall tourist arrivals from the US alone.
He noted further that “positive signs” in the construction sector have also contributed to economic growth. For this, Lovell cited the ongoing US $48 million airport expansion project and the US $190 million expansion initiative of the Jumby Bay Resort.
The Antigua & Barbuda Investment Authority, he said, continues to work to secure activity in both short and medium terms, having approved investment projects that have increased by 68 percent from 19 to 32 in a year.
“This significant increase in the number and value of projects is indicative of improving business and investor confidence. These projects will complement and support our growth engine tourism, and cover the manufacturing, construction, public transportation, financial services and health and wellness sectors,” Lovell said.
The minister also provided a brief overview of the just concluded IMF Review and Article IV Consultations.