Bud­get will be bal­anced: Oliver

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Joe Oliver has re-af­firmed his gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to bal­ance its books, two days af­ter the fed­eral bud­get watchdog warned a slower-than-ex­pected econ­omy will keep Ot­tawa in the red this year.

In a let­ter to Lib­eral fi­nance critic Scott Bri­son, Oliver says there was room built into the spring bud­get to ac­count for an eco­nomic down­turn.

But he’s not say­ing whether he’ll pro­vide an up­date of the gov­ern­ment’s fis­cal pro­jec­tions.

The let­ter, which is laden with Con­ser­va­tive party talk­ing points, notes the fed­eral trea­sury re­ported a $3.9 bil­lion sur­plus in April and May of this year.

And Oliver re­peats what he’s been say­ing for months — that the gov­ern­ment re­mains on track for a bal­anced bud­get this year.

The min­is­ter’s com­ments came in re­sponse to a re­quest from Bri­son, who asked for the fi­nance depart­ment’s latest bud­getary pro­jec­tions in light of the new Par­lia­men­tary Bud­get Of­fice re­port.

That re­port, based on a down­graded Bank of Canada eco­nomic forecast, warned that Ot­tawa could see a bud­get deficit in the cur­rent fis­cal year of $1 bil­lion.

The cal­cu­la­tion raised doubts about the gov­ern­ing Con­ser­va­tives’ in­sis­tence that there’ll be an elec­tion-year sur­plus.

Bri­son has said he can’t say with cer­tainty that the Lib­eral party, if elected to gov­ern, will pro­duce a bal­anced bud­get this year with­out up­dated num­bers from fi­nance.

NDP Leader Tom Mul­cair says the slump will make bal­anc­ing the bud­get a bit more dif­fi­cult this year.

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