Auditor general reports encouraging signs of improved fiscal situation but more work remains given historic debt levels24 February 2022
FREDERICTON (GNB) – Auditor General Paul Martin reported on his office’s fiscal 2021 financial statement audit of the province and other key findings. Overall, there are continued signs of New Brunswick’s fiscal progress.
Net debt is down from $13.9 billion last year to $13.5 billion in 2021 and the province recorded its fourth consecutive surplus.
“Even though this decrease in net debt is encouraging, more work remains given the ongoing historic level of New Brunswick’s debt. For comparison, net debt is still $3.4 billion higher than it was in 2012,” said Martin.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted provincial revenues and expenses in fiscal 2021. This year’s surplus of $409 million is largely driven by revenue increases in federal transfers, tobacco taxes, and earnings at NB Liquor, offset by revenue reductions in other areas such as personal income tax, harmonized sales tax (HST), and lottery and gaming revenue. Expenses also varied from previous years with increases in health and protection services but decreases in areas such as economic development.
The newly appointed auditor general cautioned that for the province to sustain fiscal improvements independently over the long term, it needs to find a way to restrain spending, consider revenue increases, or a combination of both.
The report released today includes chapters on the province’s financial condition and significant findings from financial audits of the province and its Crown agencies. The report includes the auditor general’s concerns relating to NB Power’s ability to self-sustain operations, unresolved access to Vestcor, Service New Brunswick’s property assessment processes and the province’s aging IT systems that remain in operation.
All chapters on the financial audit can be found in Volume III of the 2021 Auditor General Report, available online.