March 26, 2010
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The budget for the fiscal year ending Wednesday, March 31, is on track with the budget estimates announced last spring and in a December update. Finance Minister Greg Byrne made this announcement in an economic and fiscal update tabled in the legislative assembly today.
"Since the latter half of 2008, we have faced the worst global economic and financial crisis in the last 60 years," he said. "This environment had a significant impact on the economies and fiscal situations in all jurisdictions of Canada. In December 2008, this government was one of the first jurisdictions to announce a responsible, pro-active stimulus and infrastructure investment plan to position the economy to recover and prosper. Early indications are this was the right approach at the right time.
"Those who suggested our deficit would be much higher were mistaken. Obviously, we would rather have a smaller deficit, but, if that is the cost of maintaining essential services for New Brunswickers and keeping New Brunswickers working during the recession, it is a price we are willing to pay."
Based on new projections, the New Brunswick economy in 2009 performed much as outlined in the 2009-10 budget. New Brunswick was one of only three provinces to report increased employment in 2009. This, Byrne said, was in large part due to the government's action in providing economic stimulus.
Byrne noted that the projection of a 0.5-per-cent decline in real gross domestic product for New Brunswick is comparable to the latest consensus among private sector forecasters and is in line with the province's original budget projection last March.
Revenues are now estimated to be $19.1 million higher than in December, based on new information since that time. Expenses are estimated to be $8.3 million higher than projected in December, with cost pressures in several departments largely offset by lower spending in others.
It is estimated that the 2009-10 deficit to be $742.8 million, an improvement of $10.9 million since December. Net debt is projected to increase $947.5 million year-over-year, an improvement of $18.8 million from December.
"By putting a solid plan for a stronger economy in place, these results are comparable to the original budget projections for 2009-10 despite the economic challenges during the year," said Byrne.
The minister said he remains confident that the budget tabled in March 2009 was the right budget and has helped position New Brunswick for an economic recovery that will improve its long-term competitiveness and secure its economic future.
Byrne said the fiscal plan tabled in December for the 2010-11fiscal year, which starts Thursday, April 1, continues to be relevant.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The complete text of the minister's speech is online. MEDIA CONTACT: Marc Belliveau, communications, Department of Finance, 506-453-4138.