Fi­nan­cial forecast

Province ends fis­cal year with lower deficit, higher ex­penses

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE -

Nova Sco­tia ends fis­cal 2014-15 with lower deficit, higher ex­penses than forecast.

The fi­nal books for fis­cal 2014-15 saw the Nova Sco­tia gov­ern­ment register a $143.7 mil­lion deficit - a fig­ure $135.3 mil­lion lower than forecast in the 2014 bud­get.

The Fi­nance Depart­ment, which re­leased fi­nan­cial state­ments Thurs­day for the fis­cal year that ended March 31, said the im­prove­ment was largely due to re­duced de­part­men­tal ex­penses and in­creased in­come and sales taxes.

Gov­ern­ment rev­enue was $172.5 mil­lion higher than bud­geted mainly due to $110 mil­lion from the so-called prior year ad­just­ment. The money is the province’s share of fed­eral tax rev­enues from pre­vi­ous years that are fi­nally paid out.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Randy Delorey ac­knowl­edged that the fig­ure is largely be­yond the con­trol of his depart­ment, which can only make a best guess when it ta-- bles any bud­get. He pointed out that in the pre­vi­ous fis­cal year the gov­ern­ment re­ceived $250 mil­lion less than it had es­ti­mated.

“We must forecast and model as best we can and we must con­tinue to be dili­gent in those items that are largely within our con­trol,” said Delorey.

How­ever, to­tal ex­penses were up $92.7 mil­lion from the bud­get es­ti­mate, partly due to an in­crease in spend­ing in some de­part­ments and $131.5 mil­lion in ex­tra costs for things such as snow clear­ing and en­vi­ron­men­tal cleanups.

Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive fi­nance critic Tim Hous­ton said it’s clear the fi­nances would have been worse with­out the ex­tra money from Ot­tawa.

Hous­ton said he’d like to see the fi­nances im­prov­ing be­cause of an im­proved econ­omy.

“That’s not the case,” he said. “We are see­ing the fi­nances im­prov­ing be­cause of a wind­fall.”

Act­ing NDP Leader Mau­reen Mac­Don­ald also picked up the theme and ques­tioned whether the gov­ern­ment’s fis­cal di­rec­tion is sus­tain­able. She said the Lib­er­als have cho­sen to hold off on things such as open­ing more long-term care beds and fill­ing va­cant gov­ern­ment po­si­tions.

“At some point you have to bite the bullet around that,” said Mac­Don­ald.

But Delorey, who was only ap­pointed to his port­fo­lio in last week’s cab­i­net shuf­fle, said he be­lieves the gov­ern­ment’s fis­cal plan is work­ing.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to get to a bal­anced bud­get, how­ever we are con­fi­dent we are on the right track,” he said.

The gov­ern­ment fore­casted a deficit of $97.6 mil­lion for 201516 in its bud­get tabled in April.

Delorey

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