FINANCE Minister Carole James on Tuesday released the 2016-17 Public Accounts of the Province’s financial picture as of March 31, 2017, that show an operating surplus of $2.7 billion.
The operating surplus results show a $3.4-billion increase in revenue over the forecast and total expenses $1.3 billion higher than budgeted. 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. Preliminary data shows B.C.’s real GDP grew by an estimated 3.7% in 2016 and private sector economic forecasters expect B.C. to be among the top provincial economic performers this year and next.
James said: “B.C.’s economy is strong because of the hard work of British Columbians. 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 September 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.”