CANBERRA, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- An official from Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) said on Monday that asylum seeker boat arrivals have already exceeded government forecasts for this financial year.
Department Secretary Martin Bowles told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra around 12,000 would-be refugees had already arrived by boat in 2012-13 so far.
The 2012-13 financial year starts in July 2012 and ends in June 2013.
A total of 12,884 people had arrived, while the government only set budget for an estimated 12,000 for the entire financial year.
Costs for asylum seekers had more than doubled this financial year, from the government's forecast of 1.1 billion Australian dollars (1.13 billion U.S. dollars) in the budget released in May 2012.
Bowles conceded the government may revise its expected costs for the 2012-13 financial year, but added that costs did not depend only on the number of arrivals.
He said the department was changing the way it was processing asylum seekers and moving more people out of detention.
"If we actually see more people arrive, but move through the system more quickly and into bridging visas, for instance, as one example, we might actually see a reduction in the overall spend," Bowles said.
The figures released as part of the additional estimates process show the government expects costs relating to its asylum- seeker policy to fall from 2.23 billion (2.3 billion) in 2012-13 to around 340 million (350 million) in 2015-16.