UPDATE 2-British Columbia projects surplus ahead of May election

Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:48pm EST
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By Jennifer Kwan

VICTORIA, British Columbia Feb 19 (Reuters) - British Columbia will return to a budget surplus in the next fiscal year by clamping down on spending, hiking taxes and selling assets, its finance minister projected on Tuesday in a lean budget that is seen as make-or-break for the Liberals ahead of a May election.

The Canadian province's annual budget projected a small surplus of C$197 million ($194.69 million) in the coming fiscal year, after a revised deficit of C$1.2 billion in 2012-13.

In the fall, the government projected a deficit in 2012-13 of C$1.47 billion and originally pegged the deficit at C$968 million last February.

It sees a surplus of C$211 million in 2014-15 and a slightly larger C$460 million surplus in 2015-16.

True to comments leading up to Tuesday, Finance Minister Mike de Jong's budget was thin on pre-election goodies and did not pitch extravagant spending.

Instead, it was aimed at bolstering the Liberal government's fiscal credentials ahead of the May election in which polls say opposition New Democrats have an edge.

"The numbers themselves speak to the level of prudence that is embedded here," de Jong told reporters before delivering his budget speech in the legislature.   Continued...