The province released its annual financial statements today, Aug. 9, showing a higher surplus than expected for the 2006-07 fiscal year. The public accounts for the fiscal year ended March 31 reports a surplus of $182.4 million, $109.0 million higher than budget. This is the sixth year in a row that the province has brought in a balanced budget and recorded a surplus at year end. “These are solid results for Nova Scotia, further evidence of our commitment to careful management of the province’s finances,” said Finance Minister Michael Baker. “It takes a lot of effort to produce a surplus each year, and we must continue that focus.” Total 2006-07 revenues from all sources were $8.3 billion, $420.1 million higher than 2005-06, mainly because of higher revenues from petroleum royalties and income taxes. Total expenses from all sources were $8.1 billion, $476.5 million higher than 2005-06, as the government addressed rising costs in health care, education and universities. Financial results of the consolidated fund for 2006-07 showed a marginal overall increase in revenue of $88 million compared with budget, because of small changes in a number of revenue categories. Departments and public-service units in the consolidated fund stayed close to budget, as net program expenses ended up only $4.8 million, or 0.1 per cent, higher than budget. Nova Scotia’s net direct debt — the difference between the province’s liabilities and financial assets — increased as planned because of higher spending on provincial roads, schools and other infrastructure. The government spent $74.7 million more than budgeted on tangible capital assets, for a total of $433.1 million. As of March 31, net direct debt was $12.4 billion, $118 million higher than the previous year, but $18 million less than budgeted. The net direct debt is scheduled to drop in 2007-08 under the province’s debt reduction plan. “We made a deliberate choice to invest more in Nova Scotia’s infrastructure this year, while keeping within our debt reduction targets,” said Mr. Baker. “Roads, schools, and other infrastructure are vital to our economic development.” Nova Scotia’s economy performed well overall in 2006, with a real Gross Domestic Product growth of 2.0 per cent, 4.4 per cent personal income growth, and a 2.7 per cent increase in exports, despite the higher exchange rate. Although overall employment levels dropped slightly (0.3 per cent) to 441,800 jobs, unemployment also dropped to 7.9 per cent, compared with 8.4 per cent in 2005. The March 31, 2007 financial statements are in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. Nova Scotia’s auditor general has provided an unqualified auditor’s report that is included in Public Accounts Volume 1. “We are pleased to release the public accounts seven weeks earlier than last year,” said Mr. Baker. “This provides financial results to Nova Scotians in a more timely way.” The province also released its first budget forecast update for 2007-08 today, indicating little change from the budget estimates released in March.