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Govt surplus nearly $1b ahead of plan

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/04/2017

Growing business profits have left the government with an operating balance nearly $1 billion bigger than predicted for the eight months to March.

But nearly five months on, the cost of the Kaikoura earthquake still isn't being counted.

The government's operating balance, before gains and losses, for the eight months to Feburary 28 was $1.41b, compared to December's forecast of $498 million, Treasury said in its government financial statements on Thursday.

The jump was largely driven by growth in the business tax take - $551m ahead of forecast - indicated profits in the 2016 tax year were higher than expected and that this had flowed in 2017.

But while core expenses at $50.3b were slightly - 0.8 per cent - lower than forecast, they did not yet account for the November 14 Kaikoura tremor, Treasury said.

The government's forecasts included a $1b bill for insurance claims and infrastructure repairs.

"The Kaikoura earthquakes ... have yet to be quantified with enough certainty to include in the actual results," chief government accountant Paul Helm repeated in the report.

"Over time, as reasonable estimates are able to be made, these costs will be recognised in the actual results, reducing the variance."

Similar positive results for last month prompted calls for taxes to be lowered by the Taxpayers' Union.

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