Government released the public accounts for the 2017-18 fiscal year today, July 26. The annual audited financial statements report a surplus of $230 million. The net position is $120 million. “By managing the budget throughout the 2017-18 year and with one-time revenue from the offshore arbitration award, we were able to make key investments that set up our province for success for years to come,” said Karen Casey, Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. “Our fiscal plan provides financial flexibility and sustainability and has allowed us to invest in the priorities of Nova Scotians. “Last year, we reduced taxes while investing more in primary health care, in youth and young people, in infrastructure, including new health-care facilities and roads, and in new ideas that will create a better economy.” The province will invest an additional $73 million in the Nova Scotia Internet Funding Trust to help fund the expansion of high-speed internet to underserviced homes and businesses across the province. This is on top of the $120 million forecast in March. When the trust was established it provided for additional funding, based on the size of the surplus. The annual public accounts report the actual financial results at the end of the fiscal year and compare actuals to the budget approved at the beginning of the fiscal year. A set of three volumes of accountability documents, the public accounts include, consolidated financial statements of the province and financial information of departments, financial statements of Crown corporations and funds, and departmental details about salaries, payments to suppliers, travel and other expenses. The audited financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2018, and show a final surplus of $230 million, $98.4 million higher than the budgeted surplus of $131.6 million. The surplus includes a one-time revenue increase of $110.3 million because of federal and municipal contributions for the convention centre in Halifax. The $110.3 million will go towards the debt to provide the fiscal capacity in future years for the continuation of the QEII Health Sciences Centre redevelopment, enhancing care for Nova Scotians and Atlantic Canadians. The resulting net position is $120 million. This was the second consecutive year Nova Scotia finished in a surplus. In 2016-17, the surplus was $151.2 million. Consolidated revenue was up $454.4 million from budget, to $11.98 billion, primarily due to increased revenue from income taxes, an offshore petroleum royalties award and equalization. Consolidated expenses were up $356 million to $11.75 billion, primarily due to an increase in the estimated costs to remediate Boat Harbour and funding for both the Nova Scotia Internet Funding Trust and the Nova Scotia Research Trust. At year end, net debt was $14.96 billion. Net debt to GDP ratio for 2017-18 was 34.6 per cent, down 1.2 percentage points from 2016-17. The net debt to GDP ratio has declined 3.6 percentage points since 2014. Auditor General Michael Pickup has provided an unqualified opinion on the province’s consolidated financial statements for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2018. Government entities also released compensation over $100,000 for individuals as required by the Public Sector Compensation Disclosure Act. The documents are online at http://www.novascotia.ca/finance .
Gravely concerned at the harmful impact of small arms and light weapons on civilians in armed conflict, the Security Council today called for measures to keep these arsenals from falling into illicit channels. “Bearing in mind the considerable volume of licit trade in small arms and light weapons, the Council encourages States to adopt legislative and other measures to ensure effective control over the export, import, transit, stocking and storage of small arms and light weapons,” said Ambassador Martin Belinga-Eboutou of Cameroon, the President of the 15-member body, in a formal statement, which also called for effective measures to verify the end-users of these armaments. “Arms-exporting countries are encouraged to exercise the highest degree of responsibility in small arms and light weapons transactions,” the President said, stressing the responsibility of all States to prevent the illegal diversion and re-export of small arms and light weapons. The Council welcomed the establishment of a UN group of governmental experts mandated to examine the feasibility of developing an international instrument to enable States to identify and trace illicit small arms and light weapons, according to the statement. The statement stressed the importance of further steps to enhance international cooperation in preventing, combating and eradicating illicit trading in small arms and light weapons, and called on States that have not already done so to establish a national register of arms brokers. “The Council urges States to impose appropriate penalties for all illicit brokering activities, as well as arms transfers that violate Security Council embargoes, and to take appropriate enforcement action,” Ambassador Belinga-Eboutou said. Welcoming the identification of arms traffickers who have violated international arms embargoes, the Council called on countries to impose appropriate penalties on all weapons dealers ignoring these bans. The statement also underlined the importance of pursuing “more vigorously and expeditiously” the application of arms embargoes in countries or regions threatened by, engaged in or emerging from armed conflict. At the same time, the statement noted that arms embargoes do not address weapons already existing in conflict areas, and reiterated the importance of carrying out disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in post-conflict situations.