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Quebec will reach zero deficit: Finance Minister

QUEBEC CITY – “We will achieve fiscal balance for 2013-2014 and maintain it thereafter.”

That promise from Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau as he tabled an austerity budget last year is what guided the Marois government through all of its first year in power. They cut in almost every department, especially in daycare, university research and welfare programs. Now, a year later, the healthy recovery the PQ was hoping for to achieve zero deficit simply isn’t materializing.

“Retail sales are lower than expected,” explained Marceau.

Still, the minister is adamant Quebec will have a balanced budget.

“It’s a firm promise. We are fully committed to reaching that objective,” he said.

Marceau is supported by Labour Minister Agnès Maltais.

“What I say is what the Minister of Finance says, we are targeting always the zero deficit.”

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But this week, the premier seemed to falter, telling media she was considering postponing the zero deficit. According to researchers from the Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-economiques (IRIS), the PQ had a bad strategy from the start.

“They cut in services, they cut in expenses and they’ve created a stagnation situation,” said Simon Tremblay-Pépin.

The Liberals said failing to reach fiscal balance in 2014 will not only create problems, it will hurt Quebec’s reputation.

“You decide oh okay fine we’ll have a deficit. Now each time we have one, it goes on the debt and it adds to our problem and it affects our credibility on the international markets,” argued Liberal leader Philippe Couillard.

The Finance Minister said he will present an economic update later this Fall.

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