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Cook Islands Government surplus soars to $24million

The Cook Islands government has posted a surplus of $23.63 million (US$16.34 million), which is about 54 per cent higher than the estimated sum for the second quarter of the 2018/19 financial year ending December 31, 2018.

In the recently released Cook Islands quarterly financial report, the government said it recorded $12.82 million (US$8.8 million) more in surplus than what was estimated for that quarter.

The increase in surplus is mainly due to a high increase in “other revenue” collection including from fishing licenses and underspending of capital expenditure as well as a hefty saving from Crown operating expenditure.

The quarterly report stated capital expenditure for the period was below expectations by $4.91 million (US$3.3 million) due mainly to timing of spending related to a number of projects.

The government also saved $8.88 million from Crown operating expenditure for the period which totaled $74.61 million (US$51.6 million).

“The first three months of the financial year evidenced greater control of operating expenditure due to the delayed tabling of the Appropriation Bill as a result of the 2018 general election,” the report said.

“Administered payments and other expenses was the main contributor followed by ministry and Pa Enua expenditures.”

The total crown revenue collected for the December quarter was $98.24 million (US$67.9 million), above Budget estimate by $3.94 million (US$2.72 million).

The government recorded $78.93 million (US$54.5 million) from taxation alone, an increase of $414,000(US$$286,000) above the estimated amount.

The variance reflected a high collection of other revenue for the period of $3.01 million (US$2.08 million), the report said.

This is mainly due to revenue collected from fishing licenses which was above Budget estimates by $2.47 million (US$1.70 million).

The report said this was due to end of the calendar year rush to purchase bilateral purse seine days following the high presence of skip jack tuna in the Cook Islands EEZ in November and December last year.

The country also gained $650,000 (US$449,000) on foreign exchange rates activities.

The consolidated group – state owned enterprises – returned a net operating surplus of $4.93 million (US$3.40 million), $2.01 million (US$1.3 million) above Budget estimates for the December quarter.

The report said this was mainly a result of savings in both operation and personnel expenditures.

“The December 2018 quarterly financial report were prepared on an accrual basis. Variance reported may include additional funding that was either being carried forward from previous year(s) or through an Executive Council order,” the report stated.

“Government operated without an Appropriation Bill for the most part of the first quarter under the authority provided by Article 70 of the Constitution (government can access 1.5 per cent of the Appropriation Budget without parliamentary consent).

“The calling of the 2018 general election in June delayed the passing of the 2018/19 Appropriation Bill and impacted the first three months of the financial year which was evidenced by greater control of government spending.”.


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