British Columbia sees no big budget moves

Thu Nov 25, 2010 4:10pm EST
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - British Columbia's finance minister is crafting a "status quo" budget for next year as the provincial government sorts out who will be its next leader when Premier Gordon Campbell leaves.

Colin Hansen said he is still confident the western Canadian province's economy is rebounding. But a second quarter budget update released on Thursday rolled back expectations that the deficit will be much smaller than first projected.

The fiscal year to April 1 is now expected to end with a deficit of just under C$1.7 billion. That's about C$20 million less than forecast in February, but up from the C$1.4 billion projected in a September update.

Revenue from personal income taxes dropped in the second quarter and lower commodity costs cut royalty revenues, although corporate income tax revenue was higher than expected, the Finance Ministry said.

Hansen is scheduled to introduce his next budget on February 15, 11 days before the B.C. Liberal Party votes on replacing Campbell, who announced plans to resign this month.

"It will be a status quo budget," Hansen told reporters, promising to leave as much flexibility as he can to allow the new leader to decide the priorities to pursue.

British Columbia's budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year was C$40.6 billion, up from C$39.7 billion the year before.

Hansen, who does not plan to enter the leadership race, acknowledged the next premier may bring in another budget later in the year.   Continued...