July 19, 2018 2:35 pm

Saskatchewan posts smaller deficit than forecast, still $303M in the red

The Saskatchewan government said it 2017-18 spending $303 million more than it took in, as the deficit came in smaller than originally projected.

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Stronger that expected resource revenue helped the Saskatchewan government finish the last fiscal year with a deficit almost $400 million smaller than initially forecast.

The province finished 2017-18 with revenue of $14.02 billion and total expense of $14.32 billion — leaving a deficit of $303 million.

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But that’s $393 million better than what was projected in last year’s budget.

Revenue for the year was down $146 million, or one per cent, from the budget, while expenses were $489 million, or 3.3 per cent, lower than projected.

Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said a stronger performance in the oil and potash sectors helped.

Other factors included an increase in provincial sales tax to six per cent from five per cent, and lower-than-anticipated agriculture insurance claims.

Harpauer said her government is on track to return the province to a balanced budget by 2019-20.

“Each fiscal year is unique and while we are on the right path, unanticipated challenges or at times good fortune — like the better-than-anticipated crop year — can occur,” she said in a statement Thursday.

“To ensure we remain on track, our government will continue to manage spending carefully, invest in priorities for Saskatchewan people, shift from our reliance on volatile resource revenue and help to keep our economy strong.”

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The new budget released in April projects a deficit of $365 million this year and a thin surplus of $6 million in 2019-20.

-With files from Thomas Piller

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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