UPDATE 1-Canada's Alberta expects operating surplus in coming fiscal year

Thu Mar 6, 2014 6:18pm EST
 
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CALGARY, Alberta, March 6 (Reuters) - The Canadian province of Alberta, the largest source of U.S. oil imports, said on Thursday it expects to post an operating surplus in the coming fiscal year on higher tax and resource revenue.

Doug Horner, the province's finance minister, said in his budget for the 2014/2015 fiscal year that Alberta expects a C$2.6 billion ($2.4 billion) operating surplus on higher resource and tax revenue. It last pegged its operating surplus for the current fiscal year at C$1.2 billion.

Alberta, with a population of about 4 million is among Canada's wealthiest provinces, with revenue from oil and gas, low unemployment and a rising population burnishing the government's coffers.

"With more than 100,000 people moving to Alberta in the last year and no sign of slowing down, there are more Albertans paying personal income tax and corporate tax," Horner said.

Tax revenue is set to rise to C$21.5 billion in the next fiscal year, up from an estimated C$20.04 billion in the current fiscal year that ends on March 31.

Resource revenue is also expected to climb to C$9.21 billion from C$8.63 billion, with the government forecasting an average oil price of $95.22 per barrel in the fiscal year, down from C$98.16 per barrel in its year-prior budget.

Spending is forecast at C$40.43 billion, down from C$42.35 billion in the current fiscal year, a figure boosted by C$3.55 billion spent on helping the province recover from devastating floods that swept through southern Alberta in June.

Capital spending, which is not included in the operating budget, will total C$6.6 billion in the coming fiscal year, with most of the money directed to roads, schools and health care.

There are no new taxes or tax increases in the budget, but the province expects to borrow C$4.9 billion for its capital programs.