Alberta aims to keep deficit at $6.1B de­spite low oil prices: fi­nance min­is­ter

Asian Journal - - NATION - By Dean Ben­nett, The Cana­dian Press

Ed­mon­ton: Alberta Fi­nance Min­is­ter Joe Ceci says the gov­ern­ment’s goal is to keep this year’s deficit at $6.1 bil­lion de­spite oil prices that con­tinue to slide. Ceci said Tues­day he doesn’t plan to make changes to his bud­get plan be­fore the end of the fi­nan­cial year March 31. “The goal is still to do what we said we were go­ing to do,’’ Ceci said in a con­fer­ence call. “Mid-course cor­rec­tions (are) not some­thing that I’m con­tem­plat­ing. The sit­u­a­tion with com­modi­ties is dire, but it is for all of Canada, too.’’ Alberta’s bud­get is based on an av­er­age West Texas In­ter­me­di­ate price of US$50 for a bar­rel of oil. In re­cent weeks, the price has slipped well un­der $40 a bar­rel. As of Tues­day, it was be­low US$37. Ceci said he’s heart­ened by some fore- casts thath say there’sh ’ nowhereh to go b but up. “In some re­spects, peo­ple think it might be the bot­tom of the trough and that things are go­ing to be build­ing and get­ting bet­ter go­ing for­ward. “Cer­tainly ... for Al­ber­tans that would be a really good out­come.’’ The prov­ince’s long-term bud­get forecast is for multi­bil­lion-dol­lar deficits un­til 2019-20. There are also plans for $34 bil­lion in in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing over the next five years, bring­ing the pro­jected cap­i­tal debt by 2020 to more than $47 bil­lion.

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