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Monthly Economic and Financial Developments, April 2006

Published: Tuesday May 30th, 2006

During the month of April, domestic economic developments were sustained by continued strengthening in real estate investments and private sector demand. While the latest tourism data indicate a fall off in tourist arrivals during the first two months of the year, preliminary evidence suggests that construction activity remained robust.

Tourism data for year-to-date February 2006 showed a contraction in the total number of visitor arrivals of 5.3% to 790,069, as the 8.8% decline in sea arrivals overshadowed the 3.9% increase in air visitors. The decline in overall arrivals reflected reductions in visitors to the Family Islands and New Providence, which tapered by 10.8% and 6.1%, respectively. In contrast, arrivals to Grand Bahama were up by 13% due to robust recovery in the cruise sector.

Influenced by hikes in global oil prices, consumer price inflation for the year-to-date March 2006 firmed to 2.05% from 1.11% in 2005. Developments reflected higher costs for food & beverages (3.84%), housing (2.77%) and other goods & services (2.63%), which outweighed price decelerations for clothing & footwear (1.24%) and recreation & entertainment services (0.98%).

During the first nine months of FY2005/06, preliminary estimates are that the Government's fiscal deficit narrowed by 20.7% to $92.8 million when compared with the same period last year. Benefiting from favourable economic conditions, total receipts grew by $136.7 million (19.0%) to $856.1 million. Tax earnings rose by 16.0% ($108.9 million), supported by increases in stamp taxes on imports (18.3%), import duties (18.2%) and other stamp taxes (29.7%). Additionally, non-tax revenue advanced by $24.8 million (65.5%). Total outlays expanded by 13.4% to $948.9 million, as a result of increases in both current and capital expenditures.

In other economic developments, on April 24, 2006, a reported $110 million Heads of Agreement was signed with EGI Ltd., developers of Grand Isle Villas, for an anticipated 76 luxury villa project on the island of Exuma.

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