Canada's PM says ready to revise budget forecasts

Thu Mar 26, 2009 5:27pm EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government is prepared to revise the economic forecasts and plans it made in its Jan 27 budget, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday, citing the rapidly unfolding financial crisis.

Parliament's independent budget officer on Wednesday said he expected gross domestic product to contract by about 8.5 percent in the first quarter of 2009 and by 3.5 percent in the second quarter. In the budget, Ottawa cited private-sector forecasters as saying GDP would shrink by 0.8 percent in 2009.

"We don't pull our projections out of the air. We arrive at our projections based on a survey of the best private sector forecasters ... we are in a period of enormous uncertainty where projections are changing extremely rapidly," said Harper.

"(We) will consult with various private forecasters as we go through, revise our forecasts, see if we need to revise our plans," he told a televised news conference in Levis, Quebec.

Harper said he did not think the comments by the budget officer were remarkable because "forecasts are going to change very rapidly in this environment".

(Reporting by Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson)

 
<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 23, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>