Dec. 3, 2008
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Government will invest more than $1.2 billion in capital projects in the next two years, Finance Minister Victor Boudreau announced today.
The announcement came as part of an economic and fiscal update of an economic stimulus plan for the province. The plan outlined a balanced approach between in-house belt-tightening and strategic investments to help achieve self-sufficiency by 2026, and make the province stronger now and in the future.
"We are very pleased to announce these record investments in capital works, the details of which will be announced next week," Boudreau said. "By making these strategic investments, government will be able to improve infrastructure such as roads, schools, bridges, post-secondary facilities and other important infrastructure. This will serve us well, now and in the future, and create much-needed investments and jobs at the same time."
Government will table its capital budget in the legislature next Tuesday, when more project details will be announced.
Boudreau said that while the province, like all other jurisdictions, is affected by the global economic storm, it is acting to stimulate the economy. He also said that this is an initial response to the global economic climate, that government will monitor economic conditions affecting the province, and will take further actions as needed.
"New Brunswick is not immune from the current global economic and financial crisis," Boudreau said. "It is already affecting New Brunswick individuals, families, businesses and government. That is why we are announcing a bold plan to stimulate our economy and help it recover as quickly as possible from the global economic slowdown."
In large part due to global developments this year, the government is now projecting a deficit in the range of $285 million for 2008-09, as opposed to the $19-million surplus projected at budget.
The collapse of zinc prices and turmoil in the financial markets are having a significant impact on the province's finances, while flood-related costs and increased energy costs are also contributing to the deficit.
For 2008, the New Brunswick economy has performed as expected for the first three-quarters of the year, but the weakened global economy will mean lower economic growth for the last quarter.
Economic growth will be minimal for 2009, with the strong possibility of contraction, given the fallout from turmoil in financial markets, the U.S. recession, and the winding down of major capital projects.
Boudreau released initial details on a balanced fiscal stimulus package that provides the foundation for recovery and growth that will be built upon leading into the 2009-10 budget in March. Actions include:
"Global developments are having an impact here in New Brunswick," Boudreau said. "But I am confident that with the initial measures we have announced today, the sound economic fundamentals in place in the province, and the strong will and desire of our people and businesses, that we are in a solid position, not only to recover, but to prosper as we come out of the economic downturn."
The economic and fiscal update is available on the Department of Finance website at www.gnb.ca/finance.
MEDIA CONTACT: Marc Belliveau, communications, Department of Finance, 506-453-4138.