Crown accounts show OBEGAL surplus of $9 mln for six months to December versus forecast of $666 mln deficit; tax revenue and GST running higher than expected

New Zealand Inc is continuing to perform well, with the Crown's finances just dipping into the black for the first half of the year.

The accounts for the six months to December released by Treasury show the operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) was a surplus of $9 million, compared with a forecast deficit of $666 million.

Core tax revenues as well as the GST intake were both ahead of projections - reflecting the current buoyant economy.

The figures suggest the Government's well in line to match or dot better than the $473 million surplus forecast in December for the June year.

Here's the official statement from Treasury:

The Financial Statements of the Government of New Zealand for the six months ended 31 December 2016 were released by the Treasury today. The statements are compared against forecasts based on the 2016 Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update (HYEFU) published on 8 December 2016.

The operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) was a surplus of $9 million, compared to a forecast deficit of $666 million. This favourable variance of $675 million was largely due to the higher than forecast core Crown tax revenue and lower than forecast core Crown expenses.

Core Crown tax revenue was $313 million (0.9%) higher than forecast. GST revenue was $173 million (1.9%) above forecast, consistent with the higher than forecast growth in domestic consumption through the September quarter.

Core Crown expenses at $38.1 billion were $303 million lower than forecast. The majority of this relates to forecast expected costs in relation to the Kaikōura earthquakes which have yet to be quantified with enough certainty to include in the actual results. Over time, as reasonable estimates are able to be made, these costs will be recognised in the actual results, reducing the variance.

Net gains at $5.9 billion, were $2.9 billion higher than forecast in the six months to 31 December. This primarily related to an actuarial gain of $3.1 billion ($2.8 billion higher than forecast) of the ACC liability.

Net gains combined with the OBEGAL surplus, resulted in an operating balance surplus of $6.1 billion ($3.6 billion higher than forecast). Net worth attributable to the Crown was $3.7 billion ahead of forecast largely because of the operating balance result.

The core Crown residual cash deficit was $517 million (15.3%) higher than forecast. While core Crown tax receipts were close to forecast at $32.7 billion, personnel and operating payments were higher than forecast by $385 million, partially as a result of bringing forward some payments prior to Christmas. This variance is therefore expected to reverse in January. Overall net capital spending was close to forecast.

Core Crown net debt at $65.3 billion (25.5% of GDP) was higher than forecast by $317 million (0.5%). This was largely due to the higher than forecast residual cash deficit, partially offset by the impact of higher than forecast circulating currency, due to increased demand for currency over the Christmas period (leading to an increase in financial assets). Gross debt, however, was $1,609 million lower than forecast largely as a result of increased repurchasing of government stock. 

Crown financial results

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