New Brunswick lowers deficit projection by $75 M
Published Wednesday, February 8, 2012 11:27AM EST
FREDERICTON - The New Brunswick government's deficit projection for this fiscal year has decreased from the last quarter by almost $75 million, but it's still higher than what the government budgeted last March.
Finance Minister Blaine Higgs is now projecting a deficit of over $471 million for 2011-2012 -- down from the nearly $546 million estimate after the second quarter.
In a fiscal update released Wednesday, Higgs said reduced government spending has helped offset softening revenues and a weakened economy.
"We have seen spending reduced in almost every department over the previous quarter," Higgs said in a release.
Eight departments, however, are still over their original budgets.
The biggest difference is a $25-million increase under general government. That's due to increased employee benefit and pension plan expenses resulting from a lower than expected return on investments.
The Department of Health has seen a $7.9-million increase in spending, mainly due to higher than anticipated costs within the prescription drug program.
"We still have a lot of work to do to address the deficit and our mounting debt," Higgs said.
The debt is expected to increase by over $620 million this year, and top $10 billion by the end of March.
Despite improvements in the last quarter, the deficit projection is still $22.3 million more than the $448.8-million deficit that Higgs anticipated when he released his budget last year.
Higgs recently completed a tour of the province to gather suggestions in advance of his new provincial budget, which will be tabled next month.
Last week, he announced increased user fees that are expected to generate another $6 million for the province in the coming year.