Manitoba deficit lower than predicted for first time in 5 years
Province's deficit for previous fiscal year came in $147M lower than government had budgeted
The provincial government says it has made progress bringing down the provincial deficit.
Finance Minister Cameron Friesen says the province's deficit for the previous fiscal year came in $147 million lower than what the government had budgeted.
This is the first time in five years that the summary deficit was less than had been expected, Friesen said in a news release.
The province had budgeted a deficit of $911 million for the fiscal year of 2016-2017, but on Tuesday it announced the year-end fiscal results show a summary deficit of $764 million.
In March, Friesen predicted the deficit would be $872 million.
"Budget 2016 began the critical work of reversing the previous government's pattern of reckless overspending, ever-increasing debt and higher taxes. If we had continued on that path, our deficit would be $1.7 billion by 2019," Friesen said.
Friesen credited a combination of "fiscal discipline, expenditure management, higher revenues and prudent budget forecasting" for the lower deficit.
In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Friesen said the province's expenditure growth was 2.6 per cent, lower than the previous NDP government's 4.7 per cent average annual growth.
Part of the deficit decrease came from higher-than-expected revenues from taxes and transfers from the federal government.
The province says it remains concerned about the costs of servicing the debt. Debt-servicing costs for the last fiscal year totalled $930 million, $19 million higher than expected. It expects those costs to rise to $991 million for the 2017-2018 budget year.
The audited financial report — called the public accounts — can be found at on the provincial goverment's website.