News Release Archive

Nova Scotia's audited financial report for fiscal 1996-97
confirms the most significant reduction of debt in Nova Scotia's
history, Finance Minister Bill Gillis said today.

The provincial net direct debt is $143 million less than it was
the year before. "The reduction is due to a combination of budget
surplus, gains in Crown corporations and a substantial reduction
in pension liabilities," said Dr. Gillis.

"The pattern of steadily mounting debt in the this province has
now been firmly broken," the minister continued. "Lower pension
liabilities and less debt to pay back mean lower costs in the
future. Eventually, it will add up to more money for programs or
tax reductions."

The financial report also confirmed a budget surplus of $8.3
million. This includes provisions for $11.75 million worth of
capital spending on projects begun but not completed in the
fiscal year. Dr. Gillis said this type of adjustment will be
unnecessary in the current fiscal year, 1997-98.

"We have made a significant improvement in financial
accountability by changing the system of approving capital
spending," he said. In the past, departments were allowed two
years to spend money voted by the legislature. Now, however, they
are required to seek approval for capital spending every year.

"It has taken departments some time to adjust to this new system,
but they have now had enough time to do so," said Dr. Gillis.
"This means there will no longer be any need to make provisions
for capital spending commitments at the end of a fiscal year." 

The financial statements also confirm a substantial reduction in
interest costs during 1996-97 and a rise in provincial revenues.
This allowed program spending to increase and contributed to a
larger surplus than originally budgeted.


Contact: Bruce Cameron
         Department of Finance

ngr                 August 20 - 10:30 am