Flaherty won't give auto bailout total

Fri May 29, 2009 2:09pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Friday he could not say how much of his government's projected C$50 billion ($46 billion) budget deficit for this year is allotted to a bailout of the auto sector.

"We'll see as the (General Motors) discussions conclude in New York," Flaherty told reporters. "I hope an agreement is reached. An agreement has not been reached yet."

Flaherty this week raised his estimate of the 2009-10 deficit by C$16 billion and private sector economists believe at least half of that may be explained by government loans to, and equity stakes in, General Motors and Chrysler.

Flaherty said the federal government and Ontario remain committed to preserving Canada's 20 percent share of North American auto production.

($1=$1.09 Canadian)

(Reporting by Jennifer Kwan; editing by Peter Galloway)