Chronicle Herald

Paqtnkek First Nation has its financial ducks in such a neat row that a national oversight and lending agency put it in the top 10 per cent of the best-managed bands in Canada.

The First Nations Financial Management Board, based in Vancouver, reviewed Paqtnkek’s economic performance over the five years ending March 31, and gave its liquidity, sustainability and working capital-to-revenue ratios a thumbs-up, Chief Paul Prosper announced Friday.

The FNFMB provides financial management tools to First Nations governments so they can meet their growing obligations under self-government. Its approval eases access to low-cost capital markets, and will give Paqtnkek the clout to take on a $15-million development project on Highway 104, with the province and federal governments as partners.

“We’re finalizing documentation that the FNFMB requires,” said Prosper, in his second term leading the reserve 20 minutes east of Antigonish, on Monday. “After a review of our records during the past five years, they are coming up with an amount that they feel we will be able to meet as part of our obligations.”

“We’ve set the bar high for financial performance and accountability,” he said earlier in a news release. “It’s especially important as we move forward with potential development around the proposed highway interchange commercial and retail project.”

The band council, along with the federal and provincial governments, is considering a land-exchange to allow the twinning of the highway on reserve land. If it goes ahead, Paqtnkek will receive tax credits and exclusive rights to develop the commercial frontage.

The band votes on the project July 13.

Paqtnkek revenue of $10.8 million, including federal transfers for education and social benefits, exceeded expenditures last year by 10 per cent, according to the band’s unaudited 2016-17 financial statements.

In that amount, tobacco sales, fisheries, a gas bar and a gambling hall brought the 565-member band $5.1 million, against related expenditures of $3.4 million.