Volatile oil means Canada budget may be delayed to April - source

Tue Jan 19, 2016 12:24pm EST
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By David Ljunggren

SAINT ANDREWS, New Brunswick Jan 19 (Reuters) - Canada's Liberal government could push back its first federal budget to April to give policymakers a better idea of the impact low commodity prices are having on the economy, a senior Liberal official said on Tuesday.

Canadian governments usually unveil their budgets in late February or March, but a collapse in oil prices to their lowest levels since 2003 is making fiscal predictions more difficult than usual.

"April is definitely an option this year," said the source, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the topic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led his Liberals to an election win last year on the back of a promise to run three consecutive budgets with deficits of no more than C$10 billion ($6.9 billion) a year.

Officials say the worsening economic situation means the deficits will be larger than C$10 billion, but added that no final decision has been made yet on the size of the projected shortfalls.

If the Liberals do push back the date of the budget's release, it will mirror a similar move by the former Conservative government. Last year, then Finance Minister Joe Oliver waited until April 21, citing a need to get a better idea of where oil prices would end up. ($1=$1.45 Canadian) (Reporting by David Ljunggren, editing by G Crosse)