REFILE-UPDATE 2-Saskatchewan sees slim 2015-16 surplus, hikes potash taxes

Wed Mar 18, 2015 6:28pm EDT
 
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, March 18 (Reuters) - The Western Canadian province of Saskatchewan expects to post a slim budget surplus in the 2015-16 fiscal year, helped by changes in how it taxes potash mining companies, the government said on Wednesday.

Premier Brad Wall's right-leaning Saskatchewan Party government raised spending 1.2 percent to C$14.17 billion ($11.10 billion) for the year starting April 1, leaving a forecast C$107 million surplus in Canada's biggest wheat-producing province.

Saskatchewan has remained in the black for two decades, even as most provinces ran deficits when their economies slowed in recent years.

In the year ahead, however, the province expects to receive C$661 million less revenue from the crude oil industry than budgeted last year due to plunging prices.

Saskatchewan estimates the price of West Texas Intermediate oil to average $57.15 per barrel in 2015-16, while oil production slips nearly 5 percent to 178.7 million barrels.

To help offset a drop in oil revenue, Saskatchewan Finance Minister Ken Krawetz said the province will require potash mining companies to take tax deductions based on their capital spending over a longer period of time, boosting revenue by C$150 million.

The change is an interim step to be followed by a broad review of Saskatchewan's potash tax and royalty system.   Continued...