VANCOUVER, Sept 15 (Reuters) - British Columbia projected a downward-revised budget surplus of C$277 million ($208.82 million) in fiscal 2015-16, C$7 million lower than its budget forecast, as the government expects the cost of fighting forest fires in the Western Canadian province to be higher than anticipated.
Finance Minister Michael de Jong said provincial revenues have improved by C$374 million, primarily due to higher income tax and property transfer tax revenues. But government spending is forecast to increase by C$381 million, mainly due to the cost of battling fires.
A particularly hot and dry summer this year has resulted in more than 1,600 fires across British Columbia since April, well above the 10-year average.
Looking ahead, the budget surplus is projected at C$336 million in 2016-17 and C$388 million in 2017-18, both modestly down on the province’s February budget forecast.
Amid lower commodity prices and economic volatility, British Columbia also lowered its real GDP forecast to 2 percent, down 0.3 percentage point from February. It expects real GDP growth of 2.4 percent in 2016.
$1 = 1.3265 Canadian dollars Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler