Monday, September 15, 2008

PUBLIC INPUT SOUGHT

B.C. STRENGTHENS FISCAL POSITION
AMID STEADY GROWTH

The updated fiscal plan shows an improvement that will allow government the flexibility to address priority items, Finance Minister Colin Hansen announced with the release of the First Quarterly Report for 2008/09.

British Columbia’s economy is forecast to grow 1.7 per cent this year and 2.3 per cent in 2009, which shows that our economy remains resilient in the face of difficult external conditions,” said Hansen. “Looking ahead, the key to a strong economy is an environment which is attractive to investment and ready to weather the challenges.”

For 2008/09, revenues are forecast to be $1.2 billion higher than budget due to improved corporate income tax returns, natural gas royalties and bonus bid revenues from the sale of drilling rights. The 2008/09 surplus is expected to be $1.0 billion, $970 million higher than previously forecast.

Overall debt from government operations is forecast to decline to $6.3 billion, which is a level not seen since 1991/92. British Columbia has the second-lowest debt to GDP among provinces.

“These numbers demonstrate the improvement B.C. has seen to its fiscal foundation since 2001,” said Hansen. “They prove our focus on lower taxes and balanced budgets has provided real benefits to British Columbians.

“Increased surpluses provide choices for British Columbia – choices that might include additional tax cuts, spending on social programs and debt reduction. As we put together Budget 2009, we’ll be asking British Columbians for their ideas and input on what they want to see.”

As part of the consultation process for Budget 2009, an all-party committee of the Legislative Assembly will seek public input at meetings to be held throughout the province beginning Sept. 15. For more details on the pre-budget consultations, please visit http://www.leg.bc.ca/budgetconsultations/.

The First Quarterly Report 2008/09 is available online at www.fin.gov.bc.ca/qrt-rpt/qr08/Q1_08.pdf.



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