Biman: Debt to GDP ratio expected to fall

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Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad during a break from Parliament on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

Fiji’s debt to GDP ratio is expected to fall below 80 per cent at the end of July this year, says Finance Minister Professor Biman Prasad.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Prof Prasad said Fiji was in a comfortable fiscal position, adding Government had already collected $1.8billion in revenue, almost half of what was forecasted for the year.

“We have reduced the fiscal deficit from an average of 9 per cent to 4.8 per cent of GDP,” he said.

“We plan to bring this down further to 3.5 per cent of the upcoming budget. And the reduction in the deficit was critical to put our debt trajectory on a path of sustainability.

“I am pleased to update Parliament, that for the first half of the fiscal year, Government has recorded a net deficit of $114.9million equivalent to -0.9 per cent of GDP. This is much lower than the targeted net deficit.

“Government has already collected $1.8billion in revenue, which is almost half of what has been forecasted for the year. In the first 6 months we have managed to achieve almost 99 per cent of the budgeted tax revenue.”

According to Prof Prasad, compared with the same period last year, total revenue collection had increased by around $458million or 34 per cent. In addition, he said tax revenues were higher by $367million or 31 per cent.

“Similarly non-tax revenue has also increased by $92million or 56 per cent. In terms of the expenditures, for the first six months Government expenditure totalled to $1.9billion, which represents around 44.1 per cent of the total budgeted expenditure.

“As we approach the second half of the year, expenditure implementation has picked up with budget execution expected to improve.

“As we have said, the Bureau of Statistics and Reserve Bank have said, inflation was 5 per cent in 2023, in January is gone down to 3.6 per cent. That trend is very good.”

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