Fed­eral deficit hits $39.4B thanks to lower rev­enues, higher ex­penses

Cape Breton Post - - COMMENT -

OTTAWA (CP) — The fed­eral gov­ern­ment ran up an­other $3.1 bil­lion in red ink in De­cem­ber, bring­ing its deficit to $39.4 bil­lion through the first three quar­ters of the 2009-2010 fis­cal year.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Jim Fla­herty says the neg­a­tive num­bers re­flect the im­pact of the global eco­nomic cri­sis on gov­ern­ment fi­nances, as well as stim­u­lus mea­sures aimed at sta­bi­liz­ing the coun­try’s econ­omy.

The fed­eral deficit is ex­pected to hit $56 bil­lion by the time the fis­cal year ends March 31.

The num­bers com­pare to a $300-mil­lion sur­plus for the month of De­cem­ber 2008 and a $400-mil­lion sur­plus through the first three quar­ters of the last fis­cal year.

Fla­herty says more than $16 bil­lion of this year’s deficit is at­trib­ut­able to stim­u­lus mea­sures un­der the gov­ern­ment’s Eco­nomic Action Plan — in­clud­ing tax re­duc­tions, en­hanced EI ben­e­fits and sup­port for the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try.

Rev­enues were down $19.4 bil­lion — or 11.2 per cent — through the third quar­ter, while pro­gram ex­penses were up $22 bil­lion, or 14.8 per cent.

Pub­lic debt charges dropped $1.7 bil­lion on a year-over-year ba­sis due to lower in­ter­est rates. SYD­NEY — The group be­hind the ef­fort to des­ig­nate the Bras d’Or Lake and its sur­round­ing wa­ter­shed a bio­sphere re­serve has made its pitch to the three pro­vin­cial cab­i­net min­is­ters whose sup­port is needed to go ahead with the ini­tia­tive.

Nine mem­bers of the board of Bras d’Or Lake Bio­sphere Re­serve As­so­ci­a­tion met Tues­day with En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Ster­ling Bel­liveau, Nat­u­ral Re­sources Min­is­ter John MacDon­nell, and Percy Paris, Min­is­ter of Eco­nomic and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment, and se­nior depart­ment of­fi­cials. The min­is­ters all have some ju­ris­dic­tion over the lands in­volved. Their en­dorse­ments are re­quired to move the pro­posal for­ward to United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UNESCO).

“ We gave a pre­sen­ta­tion and they asked what I would re­gard as rou­tine ques­tions,” as­so­ci­a­tion chair Teresa MacNeil said Wed­nes­day, adding she was happy with the meet­ing.

Ques­tions asked in­cluded the process un­der which the des­ig­na­tion is ob­tained and the group’s ex­pec­ta­tions about fu­ture fund­ing.

“It is re­ally very dif­fi­cult to tell you that they said some­thing pos­i­tive, but if you asked me if they seemed re­cep­tive, I would say yes.”

The next stage is for the as­so­ci­a­tion to sub­mit the re­quest for the min­is­ters’ sig­na­tures to all three min­is­ters in writ­ing. The let­ter will be dealt with when the board meets next week in Mid­dle River.

The group has won the sup­port of all lo­cal gov­ern­ments — mu­nic­i­pal and First Na­tion — with the ex­cep­tion of In­ver­ness County. That mu­nic­i­pal­ity has voted against sup­port­ing the idea, cit­ing con­cerns with the size of the area in­volved and pos­si­ble ef­fects on lo­cal in­dus­try.

In­ver­ness County’s re­luc­tance to sign on was only men­tioned in Tues­day’s meet­ing in re­sponse to a ques­tion about what their con­cern was, MacNeil said. That was an­swered by Ed MacDon­ald, an In­ver­ness County coun­cil­lor who sits on the as­so­ci­a­tion’s board.

Bel­liveau, who was des­ig­nated as the lead min­is­ter on the file by Premier Dar­rell Dex­ter, was in cau­cus meet­ings all day and could not be reached for com­ment Wed­nes­day.

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