REGINA – It’s no secret resources such as oil, potash and uranium are making significant money for Saskatchewan.
Now, it may be time to invest.
“We’re very grateful for the natrual resource strength of our economy, but for the most part, they are non-renewable.” Premier Brad Wall said. “Once we sell them, they’re gone.”
A report commissioned by the government and accidentally released last week proposes the Saskatchewan Futures Fund.
26 per cent of non-renewable resource revenue would pay for things in the provincial budget, such as education and health care, while anything else would be saved in one of three ways:
- eliminate debt first, then contribute to Fund
- 50% committed to debt reduction, 50% to Fund
- launch Fund in 2014 with $100-million allocation
Whichever is chosen, the report’s author says only potential returns on the investment would be spent.
“The capital remains untouchable,” said Peter MacKinnon, who authored the report. “The investment proceeds should be used as a government might decide the need to be, 10 years from now or 25 years from now.”
The idea isn’t new.
In 1978, the Saskatchewan Heritage Fund was started with $465 million, but the money was quickly spent and the fund was abolished by 1992.
Models from Alberta, Alaska and Norway influenced this report.
Based on revenues the last five years, had Saskatchewan started a Futures Fund in 2008, it would already be worth $501 million.
The opposition NDP sees the Fund as a chance to ensure long-term stability.
“It’s like any household,” said NDP leader Cam Broten. “If you don’t start saving for kids’ education, even when you’re still paying down the mortgage, sometimes families won’t get around to saving for the education.”
“It’s good to have the structure in place.”
Regardless of how the Saskatchewan Futures Fund is established, MacKinnon’s report stresses it should happen as early as possible.
Premier Wall says it’s likely the government will respond to the recommendations as part of the budget tabled in Spring 2014.