Spending controls keep fiscal plan on track - InfoNews

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Spending controls keep fiscal plan on track

July 23, 2013 - 2:53 PM

VICTORIA - Spending controls brought in midway through last year to address falling revenues helped government reduce total spending by $668 million compared to the Budget 2012 forecast, Finance Minister Michael de Jong announced today with the release of the 2012-13 Public Accounts.

The Province ended the fiscal year with a deficit of $1.146 billion.

Government revenues were $1.1 billion lower than forecast in Budget 2012, primarily due to declining revenues in resource sectors including petroleum and natural gas, natural resources, and minerals. Government increased spending on health by $585 million, education by $300 million and social services by $50 million compared to 2011-12. Total program spending increased only 2.6 per cent over the previous year.

Government invested $3.3 billion in capital projects throughout the province such as schools, universities, health-care facilities and other capital infrastructure. Projects included the Fort St. John Hospital and Residential Care Centre, expansions to Kelowna General and Vernon Jubilee hospitals, the Centre for Drug Research and Development Building for the University of British Columbia, and the South Fraser Perimeter Road.

Total provincial debt increased by $5.6 billion to $55.8 billion as the Province continued to invest in capital projects. This includes an increase in taxpayer-supported debt of $3.5 billion to fund capital infrastructure and support working capital requirements for programs and services. The increase in taxpayer-supported debt was $427 million less than forecast in Budget 2012 due lower borrowing requirements for capital projects and for government operating purposes. Self-supported debt increased $2.1 billion, $418 million less than budget.

The Province's ratio of taxpayer-supported debt to GDP, a key measure of affordability, ended the year at 17 per cent-one of the lowest in North America and below the 17.6 per cent forecast in Budget 2012.

British Columbia continues to maintain the highest credit rating possible with Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Services Inc. at Triple-A. Dominion Bond Rating Service has affirmed the Province at a rating of AA (high).

The Balanced Budget and Ministerial Accountability Act requires a 20 per cent ministerial salary holdback for all members of cabinet to ensure ministries operate within their own budgets and government meets its overall financial commitment. As the government posted a deficit for 2012-13, cabinet members take a 10 per cent pay cut.

All ministers achieved their individual ministry fiscal targets and will receive the other 10 per cent of their salary holdback. The Ministerial Accountability Report, released today, outlines the specific financial targets ministers must achieve to receive their ministerial salary holdback.

Online versions of the public accounts and related documents can be found at the following link: http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/ocg/pa/12_13/pa12_13.htm

Unaudited Public Accounts supplementary data sets including salary information, travel expenses and payments to suppliers are available on the Data B.C. website at: www.data.gov.bc.ca

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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