Potash, oil revenue down, but Saskatchewan still in black
The Saskatchewan government is taking in less money from potash and oil than it budgeted for, but says it's still on track for a balanced budget.
According to the mid-year financial update released Tuesday by Finance Minister Ken Krawetz, income from resources is down by hundreds of millions of dollars, but money from taxes is up.
The result is that by the end of the fiscal year, there should be a $12.4 million surplus for the General Revenue Fund (GRF) and a surplus of $22.5 million for the Summary Financial Statements, up $7.7 million from budget.
That means Saskatchewan is on track to be the only province in Canada to finish the fiscal year in the black.
Potash revenue is down $239.8 million compared to what was budgeted in the spring, while oil revenue is down $164.6 million compared to the budget.
Offsetting that is higher-than-expected revenue from personal income tax and other taxes. Overall expenses are also higher than was budgeted — up about $31.6 million to $11.23 billion.
The government says that partly reflects the costs associated with major flooding in recent years.
Much of the increased spending has been offset by lower debt servicing costs and what the government calls "expense management".
"We recognize that there have been sources of revenue that have declined, very significantly," Krawetz said Tuesday. "When you have to adjust your non-renewable resource sector by over $400-million that's significant, of course."
Krawetz called increased revenues from personal and corporate income taxes a sign of a healthy, growing economy.
The Opposition NDP said the Saskatchewan Party government balanced its budget numbers by offloading costs onto the public.
As an example, finance critic Trent Wotherspoon noted how SaskPower, a provincial Crown corporation, will be borrowing more money than had been projected.
Wotherspoon pointed out the government took more than $100 million from SaskPower's profits last year.
"We saw last year a late year unplanned grab of $120 million," Wotherspoon said. "We see now families and businesses being asked to pay the direct price for that. It's a direct line, a direct consequence."
A proposed hike in utility rates is currently before the provincial cabinet.
With files from CBC's Stefani Langenegger