Resource prices, tax revenue higher than what Sask. government budgeted for: finance minister

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan finance minister delivers fiscal-year end financials'
Saskatchewan finance minister delivers fiscal-year end financials
Saskatchewan finance minister Donna Harpauer delivered the 2021-22 public accounts in Saskatoon on Thursday. It showed a deficit of almost $1.5 billion at the years end, but that's an over $1 billion improvement from the expected deficit – Jun 30, 2022

Saskatchewan finance minister Donna Harpauer delivered the 2021-22 fiscal year end financials in Saskatoon Thursday, showing a $1.47 billion deficit.

That marks a $1.14-billion dollar improvement from the expected deficit. The fiscal year runs from April to March.

“Saskatchewan’s finances strengthened in fiscal 2021-22,” Harpauer told reporters.

She said the main reason for the improvement was revenue being substantially up.

Higher potash and oil prices resulted in increased non-renewable resource revenue, and higher personal income, corporate income and sales tax revenue than the government budgeted for.

The total revenue of $18.14 billion was up by $3.66 billion from the projections included in the 2021-22 budget.

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However, the government said widespread drought had a significant impact on agriculture expenses and health spending was also up last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harpauer added the province’s public debt on March 31, 2022 was about $529 million lower than they had projected in the budget.

“(The) government needed to borrow less because of the strengthening of our finances. Saskatchewan’s improvements for the fiscal year and its strong financial plan has the province back on track,” Harpauer said.

“Saskatchewan is poised to be among the leaders in the country in economic growth in 2022, according to private sector forecasts based on continued high commodity prices, increased private sector investment and a return to a more normal year for agriculture.”

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Meanwhile the Official Opposition called on the government to immediately deploy resource revenues to provide residents with cost-of-living relief the NDP says is needed.

“The year-end numbers show that the government is flush with windfall resource revenues and has the fiscal capacity to provide much needed relief,” said finance critic Trent Wotherspoon.

“The only question now is whether they care enough to give the people of Saskatchewan a break.”

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The NDP is calling on the government to scrap new PST measures that were introduced in the 2022-23 budget, and deliver windfall revenue cost-of-living and fuel relief rebates.

They also say the government should suspend the provincial fuel tax for the summer months.

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After a number of school divisions announced their 2022-23 budgets which included lunchroom fees for parents, as well as job cuts, the NDP is also calling on the government to provide $50 million in emergency funding to boards.

However, according to Harpauer, those looking for relief will likely be waiting until the fall.

“We’re not going to spend what we’re not assured won’t be there,” she  told reporters, adding the government averaged oil at $77 per barrel over the last year.

“You have to average what you’re going to get for the entire year. If you get a bonus for a month or two, you don’t want to escalate your spending to the level of that bonus because it may not follow through for the entire 12 months.”

Harpauer said once the government releases their first quarter budget numbers in August, they will be “better positioned” to make decisions.

“I think you are going to see decisions on what we’re going to do. We are seeing strength. Will it hold for 12 months? We don’t know.”

The full 87-page year-end report is available on the government’s website.


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