Saskatchewan is projecting a $485.5 million surplus in the first quarter and says the plan to address $1 billion in operating debt is on track.
The province said the surplus is down $532 million from the budget, pointing to wildfire fighting efforts and higher non-cash pension expenses as the reason for that.
“Saskatchewan’s finances continue to be in a strong position, with a substantial surplus. The forecast, however, clearly demonstrates the need to be prudent and manage spending carefully, as resource revenue is volatile and forecasts can change quickly due to global impacts on prices and production,” said Finance Minister Donna Harpauer.
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The revenue forecast at the first quarter is down $123.7 million, sitting at $19.6 billion.
A decrease in the the non-renewable resources revenue forecast was considered the culprit, with the province saying there was a $528.9-million decrease which was largely due to lower potash and oil prices and forecasted sales.
It said this decrease was offset due to increased revenues in other areas like taxation to the tune of $405.2 million.
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Expenses are projected to be up at the first quarter, hitting $19.1 billion, up from $408.2 million.
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The province says that increased expense forecast is due to a $317.2-million increase to education, general government and finance charges, as well as a $89-million increase used to fight wildfires.
“We will continue to pay down operating debt, as planned. We’re able to do so because higher opening cash balances due to a strong year end in 2022-23 have offset the drop in the projected surplus.”
The province touted that it has the second best net-debt-to-GDP among the provinces, adding that it’s projected to be at 13.4 per cent at the end of 2023-24.
“Sticking with our debt reduction plan is important, because paying down up to $1 billion in operating debt this fiscal year, combined with $1.5 billion in debt retirement last fiscal year, is resulting in projected annualized interest savings of $110 million — savings that go directly into supporting priority programs, services and infrastructure for Saskatchewan people.”
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