For years the Suriname budget operated with a deficit. Government revenues increased following the introduction of a new bauxite levy in 1974. In 1979 and 1980 there were budget surpluses. During the 1980s, however, the military regime in power increased government intervention and participation in the economy, causing public employment and budget deficits to soar. The return to civilian government in 1991 enticed the Dutch government to resume its development aid program, which amounted to $200 million by 1996. Reforms enacted included the reduction of deficit spending, the renunciation of monetary creation as a means of financing deficits, and the deregulation of trade and business licensing systems. After the Netherlands halted development aid in 1997, over half of the labor force was on the government payroll, and government spending was equal to 41% of GNP. The Netherlands aid package resumed in 1998, but on a sectoral basis rather than by individual project; this arrangement did not please the government of Suriname.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimates that in 1999 Suriname's central government took in revenues of approximately $393 million and had expenditures of $403 million including capital expenditures of $34 million. Overall, the government registered a deficit of approximately $10 million. External debt totaled $512 million.