The Nunatsiavut government in Labrador says its 2013-14 balanced budget will allow it to continue making progress with the implementation of its strategic plan, while setting a course for future social and economic growth and prosperity.
Finance, Human Resources and Information Technology Minister Daniel Pottle said in a news release the Nunatsiavut government remains committed to implementing its strategic plan to better position itself to effectively meet the future needs of communities and all beneficiaries of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement.
“We are pleased with the progress we have made as a government, and will continue to stay the course so that we can achieve the goals and objectives as set out in our Strategic Plan,” Pottle said.
In handing down the budget in Hopedale this week, Pottle also said he was proud to be part of a government that has been touted as one in which all Aboriginal groups and organizations across the country should emulate.
“We have been identified as an example of a regime that stands amongst the top when it comes to being accountable and transparent,” said Pottle. “Having accountability and transparency builds trust, not only with beneficiaries of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement, but also with our federal and provincial counterparts.”
Of $61,418,868 budgeted for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which begins April 1, a total of $20,157,546 will be used for government administration. Pottle said this expenditure will be offset from "own-source revenues of the same amount, which includes a surplus of $4.8 million from the previous fiscal year."
A total of $41,261,140 is set aside to deliver programs and services under the Fiscal Financing Agreement (FFA), which is negotiated between the Nunatsiavut government and the governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador every five years, or at other intervals agreed to by the parties. The FFA ensures funding is provided to the Nunatsiavut government for the provision of programs and services to Inuit and other persons living in Inuit communities, at levels reasonably comparable to those generally prevailing in communities of similar size and circumstances in Labrador.
The budget reflects an increase in personal income taxes and Goods and Services Tax (GST) funds. The Nunatsiavut Government receives 95 per cent of all federal income tax dollars received from residents of the five Labrador Inuit communities.
With an overall improvement in global markets, Pottle said the Nunatsiavut government is seeing increases in interest and investment income. While no significant mining and mineral rights taxes are expected to be received from the provincial government in 2013-14, he said the Nunatsiavut government has adequate funds from its reserves to ensure it is able to offer programs and services at current levels.
Some of the budget highlights:
• The budget for the Nunatsiavut Secretariat, which includes the president’s office, has been increased by 18.9 per cent, or $314,000, from the previous year. A full-time policy analyst will be hired and funds have also been set aside to hire an information/data management specialist;
• The budget for Nunatsiavut Affairs has increased by 11 per cent to offset significant increases in maintenance of public property and fuel prices;
• A total of $2.3 million has been allocated to Torngat Regional Housing Association to continue with the delivery of its programs;
• A housing needs assessment – cost-shared equally by the Nunatsiavut, federal and provincial governments – was conducted in the five Labrador Inuit communities this past fall. The results of the assessment, along with the Nunatsiavut government’s Sustainable Communities Initiative, will play a significant role in determining critical needs and priority requirements for housing. To that end, a total of $2.7 million has been set aside to help with the development of a long-term sustainable housing strategy;
• The budget for the Department of Lands and Natural Resources has increased by 16 per cent from the previous year. Highlights from the departmental plan include: the continuation of a fund for the purchase of fishing opportunities, such as quotas and licences and the acquisition of capital assets, including the construction of two Quonset huts to store equipment;
• $200,000 has been budgeted for the continuation of the Lake Melville Baseline Environmental Study, and $75,000 has been earmarked for the Nunatsiavut government’s Sustainable Communities Initiative;
• The budget for the Department of Culture, Tourism and Recreation has increased by 20 per cent. A number of programs and projects will be implemented and others will be continued as the department follows through with its strategic plan commitments, particularly with respect to culture and language;
• The Nunatsiavut government will also continue to contribute $60,000 to the Torngat Recreation Commission.