Savings account decision by spring, Wall says

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says he will make a decision on creating a long-term savings fund in time for next spring's provincial budget.

Resource revenue could seed an investment fund for the future

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says he will make a decision on creating a long-term savings fund in time for next spring's provincial budget.

A report, available for scrutiny since last week, recommends a permanent savings account that would hold money from non-renewable resources revenue. The idea is to build up the fund, through investing, to create an ongoing source of income for the future.

Wall said Tuesday he believes Saskatchewan people approve of the idea.

"There's ... also a recognition and understanding in the province that while we're very grateful for the natural resource strength of our economy and the bountiful resources that we have, that for the most part they are non-renewable. Once we sell them, they're gone," he said.

In order to create the fund, the province would have to divert a portion of resources revenue away from existing government programs into the new savings account.

Wall said it is a matter of finding a balance between spending on immediate concerns and saving for the long-term.

"I think you want short-term cash, long-term savings and overall a plan to keep the debt coming down, that's how I would sort of see us moving forward with a model like this," said Wall.

NDP had the same idea

Wall also noted that the idea for the fund was part of the election campaign of the Opposition NDP, which dubbed it a Heritage Fund.

Wall said borrowing from his rival's platform was an example of the political system working for the good of the electorate.

Wall made his comments flanked by the author of the report, former University of Saskatchewan president Peter MacKinnon.

MacKinnon stressed the fund needs a clear purpose as a permanent investment fund that which would be available 10 years from now, 100 years from now and "hopefully forever."

"It's not an economic development fund. It's not a rainy-day fund. It's not a fiscal stabilization fund, although this fund would bring some fiscal stabilization naturally," said MacKinnon, who was appointed by Wall in October 2012 to produce the report.

With files from CBC's Stefani Langenegger and The Canadian Press


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