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ANCHORAGE - Gov. Frank Murkowski will announce the 2003 permanent fund dividend tonight at the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.'s annual meeting in Anchorage. Until that time the exact size of the check won't be known.
What is known, however, is that the 2003 amount will be substantially lower than recent years.
In July, the permanent fund corporation transferred $691 million to the state Department of Revenue to pay for the dividend program, according to fund spokeswoman Laura Achee.
That amount will be split among approximately 600,000 Alaskans who could be eligible for the 2003 dividend.
If, in fact, all 600,000 applicants are eligible, the size of the dividend check will be approximately $1,150. Last year 586,936 Alaskans received dividend checks of $1,540.76.
The reason the dividend will be lower this year is due largely to the end of the stock market boom two years ago. About half of the $23 billion fund is invested in stocks and other equities.
Earnings fell when the stock market declined.
Because of lower earnings, the fund has $691 million available for distribution compared with $926 million last year and $1.11 billion in 2001, Achee said.
The fund pays dividends on actual cash income from interest on bonds, rents or sales of real estate and sales of stocks or other equities, she said.
The size of the payment is based on the average of the fund's total realized earnings for the previous five fiscal years, Achee said.
In addition to paying the dividend, part of the fund's annual earnings are invested into the principal of the fund to offset the effects of inflation on the fund's total value.
In July, the fund invested $352 million from last year's earnings into the principal to offset inflation, according to Achee. In 2002, $602 million in "inflation-proofing" investments were made, and $686 million in 2001, she said.