Fourth Consecutive Surplus / No Tax or Fee Increases / No Real Plan to Pay Down Massive Debt
The Nova Scotia government has produced its fourth straight balanced budget with no tax or fee increases. This is another good news budget but concerns remain that there is still no real plan to pay down the province’s $15.1 billion debt. This massive debt is the responsibility of a provincial population of just under one million people. The most notable Departmental spending increases occurred in health care, community services and highway construction; while an additional forty new government employees will be hired across various Departments.
Deficit and Debt:
- The 2018-19 surplus came in at $28.4 million based on total revenues of $10.8 billion. There was a $103 million increase in provincial government spending.
- The projected surplus for 2019-2020 will be $33.6 million based on total revenue of $11.01 billion.
- The province’s $15.1 billion net debt is projected to increase to $15.3 billion by 2020.
- The province currently spends $862.5 million per year to service the existing debt.
- Debt to GDP ratio for 2018-19 was 34.3%. For 2019-20, it is projected to decrease to 33.8%. However, this assumption is based on projected economic growth and stable federal government transfers as opposed to any focused debt repayment plan.
Other Budget Items of Note:
- Corporate tax revenue increased by 13.8%. HST revenue increased by 2%. Cannabis and tobacco revenues were down 24.9% and 4.1% respectively.
- Real GDP for 2018-19 was 0.9%. For 2019-20, it is expected to grow by 0.8%.
Of Interest to Pharmacy retailers:
- An additional $8.4 million for government to respond to the growing demands for pharmacare programs.
- An additional $16.8 million to support home care.
For Home Improvement retailers:
- An additional $7.2 million to make improvements to public housing units.
- Hundreds of millions (current and previously announced) to two of the largest healthcare redevelopment projects in Halifax and Cape Breton Regional Municipality (for the main hospitals and community health centres).
For rural retailers:
- $2.5 million increase to Develop Nova Scotia’s budget to deliver better access to high-speed internet in underserviced areas.
For small retailers:
- An additional $1 million for Community ACCESS-Ability grants to make accessibly related improvements in businesses.
- There are no new fees or increases to fees and permits.
Now that the budget has reached a level of sustainability and critical investments to the health care system are underway, Retail Council of Canada (RCC) will continue to remind the government of the need to develop a plan to pay down the province’s debt. In addition, RCC will begin pushing for corporate tax and HST relief. The government needs to be reminded of the sacrifices made by Nova Scotia retailers to enable the government to deliver four consecutive balanced budgets.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact: Jim Cormier, Director (Atlantic) at: email@example.com or (902) 422-4144