PM Davis ‘confident’ that Revenue Outturn will near $2.9 billion

(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)

Prime Minister and Minister of àFinance the Hon. Philip Davis said in the House of Assembly, during his Communication on Budget 2023, on May 31, 2023, that public revenue receipts were strong over the nine-month period of July 2022 to March 2023, due to legislative reform, effective policy decisions, strengthened economic conditions and more efficient collection efforts.
Here are his main points on the topic:
 Analysis of the trends of the first three quarters of this fiscal year, and the years prior, suggest that the government is potentially set to exceed the $2.85 billion target set forth in the February 2023 Mid-year Supplementary Budget.
 He was “confident” the revenue outturn at the end of the Fiscal Year 22/23 will near $2.9 billion.
 Public spending has remained on track, and is well within the budgeted amount. For this reason he was also confident that expenditure at end of the Fiscal Year 2022/23 will almost reach the target of $3.1 billion set in the Supplementary Budget.
 He pointed out that the primary balance will, therefore, record a surplus of $68.4 million at the end of the fiscal year, a $54.8 million increase from the $13.6 million surplus projected in the supplementary budget.
 Likewise, the overall deficit was expected to improve to $520.6 million, down from the $575.4 million outlined in the supplementary budget.
 Speaking of Government financing, Prime Minister Davis said that The Bahamas’ borrowing costs had begun to experience a downward trend in the previous quarter; but the cost of borrowing rose at the end of March 2023.
 At the end of the third quarter, the total average cost of borrowing for current outstanding debt had risen to an interest rate of 5.55 percent. This, he said, was notably higher than the previous year’s rate of 4.93 percent at the end of March 2022.
 That increase in borrowing costs is primarily attributable to the higher costs associated with external loan facilities.

 He added that, more specifically, the average interest rate for external financing had risen by 1.99 basis points, resulting in a rate of 5.55 percent as of March 2023, compared to the preceding year’s 3.56 percent.
 Throughout the past year, the interest rate policies of the major Central Banks had been restrictive, with a series of interest rate increases. Those adjustments had been primarily motivated by the escalation of inflation, and the resulting upsurge in interest rates has had
an impact on the Bahamas’ external borrowing costs.
 However, the cost of borrowing in the domestic market has been declining over the past quarters.
 He noted that, looking at it in more detail, one can see that:
 The average interest cost for domestic loans subsided by 27 basis points to 4.62 percent at end of March 2023, from 4.89 percent in the previous year;
 And the average interest cost for domestic bonds subsided by 3 basis points to 4.63 percent at the end of March 2023 from 4.66 percent in the previous year.”
 Those statistics affirmed the Government’s latest medium-term debt strategy, which aimed to shift its borrowing away from costly external commercial debt.
 He added that such debt had seen a sharp increase over the past five years, including recent interest rate hikes. That strategic move will enable the government to once again rely predominantly on the domestic market to meet its financing requirements.”
 Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, when considering the maturity of debt, or the average time it takes to repay the principal amount in the government’s debt portfolio, a longer maturity period led to a reduction in refinancing risk.
 He said that, in essence, prioritizing longer maturities was key to managing debt effectively. And so another element of the Government’s medium-term debt management strategy is the goal of prolonging the average maturity time of its debt.
 Prime Minister Davis said that, in the face of “unprecedented turbulence” in the global financial markets, the Government was able to maintain its average time to maturity.
 He added that, at the end of March 2023, the average time to maturity had decreased slightly to 6.7 years, down from the previous 6.8 years in March 2022. That variance, he noted, was due solely to the external loan component, as the average time to maturity on
internal debt has remained steady at 7.1 years.
 That highlighted the significance of maintaining a prudent approach to debt management, and aligning his administration’s practices with the government’s optimal debt strategy, Prime Minister Davis added.

 It is imperative that his Government continued to exercise prudence in that area to ensure financial stability, he said.