Canada's Flaherty says 'no doubt' budget balanced by 2015

Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:33pm EST
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By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Monday there is "no doubt" the government's books will be balanced in 2015, but he cautioned against speculation the federal deficit will be eliminated sooner than that.

Flaherty later said he would present the government's 2014-15 budget to Parliament on February 11 at 4 p.m. (1600 ET).

While bullish about the possibility of a surplus before the 2015 federal election, Flaherty chose his words carefully when asked in a news conference if he could reach the goal a year earlier.

"We're being prudent. We know we're on track to balance in 2015-16 and ... we said we'd balance in the medium term, and we'll balance in the medium term, but we're going to be cautious in the meantime," he said.

"We have to make sure that we have a comfort level that we can respond to things that will happen. The world is what it is and things will happen," he said.

Flaherty spoke after a meeting with a group of private-sector economists whose forecasts the government uses as assumptions in its budget.

The Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has long promised to balance the books.

With the U.S. recovery gaining strength and a slide in the Canadian dollar likely to boost exports, some economists said the prospects for Canada looked slightly better than they did last time they met with Flaherty in October.   Continued...

Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa January 27, 2014. REUTERS/Chris Wattie