Monday, October 20th7.7°C
23836
22952

B.C. to table balanced budget

British Columbia's finance minister says the budget he is preparing to table Tuesday is balanced, but Mike de Jong is issuing the same warning he did with last year's pre-election fiscal plan: there are few goodies inside.

But de Jong says that's a good thing.

The finance minister said the three-year plan will forecast modest budget surpluses, which he said was a sign the Liberal government has stuck to its goals of controlling government spending during challenging times.

"I'd like to think people assign importance to government living within its means, particularly in the context of a time when very few governments are able to do that," said de Jong.

"There will not be huge swings in taxation policy. There won't be huge spending announcements. We're not at a point yet where that's possible within the context of the balanced budget."

Other than Saskatchewan, B.C. is the only province to balance its books.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said last week the Conservative government in Ottawa is on target to produce a balanced budget next year — ahead of a federal election — but this year he's still battling a deficit.

De Jong said holding the line on spending wasn't easy, but it produced results.

"It's interesting how quickly now some pundits dismiss (a balanced budget) as being insignificant," he said.

"In every other province it would be huge news and yet because of the discipline that we've brought, people accept that as a given. It's been hard getting to this point."

The next B.C. election is set for May 2017.

De Jong has already said the budget will not include revenue estimates from the development of the liquefied natural gas industry. He said the government is still refining its regulatory and taxation policies for the prospective new industry and legislation won't be tabled until the fall.

Premier Christy Clark says LNG development represents a trillion-dollar economic opportunity for B.C. that could create up to 100,000 jobs. Last year, she outlined plans for a fund that she predicted would build enough resource revenues to pay off B.C.'s debt, currently hovering at $60 billion and rising.

Canadian Taxpayers' Federation B.C. spokesman Jordan Bateman said Clark's promise of LNG revenues is still just a promise, and until that money appears — if it ever does — the Liberals should continue their tight-wad financial ways.

"I want to believe in LNG," said Bateman. "I'm hoping for LNG, but you've got to plan like it's not going to be there. It's really important this government keep thinking it's broke and keeps grinding out the savings wherever they can find them. Keep holding the line on spending. Don't get too crazy on borrowing."

He said de Jong and the Liberals deserve to crow about their balanced budget, especially after going into an campaign last spring without any expensive election promises.

"They deserve credit — they held the line on spending," Bateman said.

"It would have been easy for them to go into the election and throw around hundreds of millions of dollars in goodies to try and buy votes. To their credit, they didn't and it's going to turn into what looks like a surplus this year."

But Bateman said he'll be looking for the Liberals to control the provincial debt, which is forecast to rise above $60 billion this year.

Opposition New Democrat finance critic Mike Farnworth said he'll look to see if the B.C. budget factors in costs associated with fewer federal health dollars and the recent B.C. Supreme Court judgment that found the Liberal government should not have removed the rights of teachers to bargain class sizes and their composition as part of their collective agreement.

The government said it will appeal the ruling. Education Minister Peter Fassbender said reinstating previous contract language governing class size and composition could cost the government up to $1 billion.

"Does (the budget) address the very serious skill shortage in this province?" Farnworth said. "Does it allow the resource-based ministries to do the job they have been hampered in doing because of the cuts over the last number of years? It's going to be interesting to see what their figures are."

The Canadian Press

COMMENTS WELCOME

Comments on this story are pre-moderated and approval times may vary. Before they appear, comments are reviewed by moderators to ensure they meet our submission guidelines. Keep it clean, keep it civil, keep it truthful, stay on topic and be responsible. Comments are open and welcome for three days after the story is published. We reserve the right to close comments before then. Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of Castanet, but only of the comment writer.



Read more Business News

22890


Recent Trending




Today's Market
S&P TSX14227.68+174.71
S&P CDNX810.1318.20
DJIA16380.41263.17
Nasdaq4258.438+41.047
S&P 5001886.76+24.00
CDN Dollar0.8877+0.0012
Gold1241.30+2.30
Oil81.85+0.23
Lumber334.60-0.60
Natural Gas3.735-0.031

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.10-0.01
Knighthawk0.01-0.005
QHR Technologies Inc1.11+0.06
Cantex0.08+0.02
Anavex Life Sciences0.19-0.0015
Metalex Ventures0.05+0.005
Russel Metals32.35+0.87
Copper Mountain Mining1.94+0.09
Colorado Resources0.15+0.005
ReliaBrand Inc0.013-0.0028
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.060.00
Mission Ready Services0.45+0.06

 



23718

FEATURED Property
2090661BANK FORECLOSURE!
$350,000
more details
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


Keep it rubber side down

This time of year, I always worry about which friends of mine will get caught going off the road in adverse weather conditions. With a little preparation most accidents can be avoided. Having won the...


Big bank predicts rate hike

Photo: Thinkstock.comThe end of record-low rates is nigh, according to one major bank, which has taken a stance and predicted when the Bank of Canada will raise its long-standing overnight rate. &ldq...


Experts share strategies in Kelowna

The third week in October is “Small Business Week”, a week dedicated to supporting local, small businesses. The week was designed to bring awareness to Canadians about the role small busin...

_








Member of BC Press Council


22771