Flaherty still OK with budget forecasts

Wed Feb 25, 2009 1:30pm EST
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government is comfortable with the economic forecasts it made in last month's budget, despite the continuing downturn, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Wednesday.

"We made our projections in the budget. We were more conservative than the private sector forecasters. So far I'm comfortable with where we are in our projections," he told reporters after a meeting of the Conservative caucus.

"We've said that this year, 2009, would be a difficult year and it's proving to be a difficult year."

He said the government was modifying some of its procedures to make it easier to get stimulus money out the door.

"This is urgent. This is an emergency situation of getting this stimulus into the Canadian economy," Flaherty said.

The minister said he was open to doing something like the U.S. government website, www.recovery.gov, to help track the stimulus money.

"We've been looking at various ways of reporting to Parliament and reporting to the people of Canada. One of the ways is a website," he said.

Under a Liberal amendment, the minority Conservative government agreed to report in March, June and December on the progress in combating the recession.

Flaherty said the government would make a report on March 11 but there would not be a lot to report yet since the budget implementation bill has not yet passed Parliament.

The minister also said most of Canada's provinces would be running budget deficits this year, as is the federal government.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Peter Galloway)

 
<p>Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty speaks to students of the business community in Toronto, February 6, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>