Saskatchewan ends fiscal year with lower deficit, more revenue from potash boost

Saskatchewan ends fiscal year with lower deficit, more revenue from potash boost
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REGINA — The Saskatchewan government ended the last fiscal year with a lower deficit than initially planned.

The province reported Thursday that it ended 2018-19 with a deficit of $268 million — almost $100 million lower than what was budgeted.

It also said $206 million more revenue flowed into government coffers than what was forecast.

Minister of Finance Donna Harpauer said that was largely a result of non-renewable resource revenues. The biggest boost came increased potash sales at higher prices, she said.

The government has a three-year plan to balance the budget by 2019-20 and expects to bring in $34 million more in revenue than expenses.

Harpauer said the strength of potash sales factored into a decision to eliminate a resource credit and deductions related to the potash production tax.

“Potash had the strength that we felt that they did not necessarily need the exemptions that they were getting,” she said.

The government expects to bring in $117 million more in potash revenue due to the change.

Harpauer said she’s concerned about what impacts Canada’s ongoing trade issues could have on this year’s budget, as well as about any weather-related costs that could emerge.

“I’m thrilled as everyone else is to see the rain,” she said.

“Agriculture is a huge part of our budget and … there was a lot of concerns that we would have a large crop insurance claim.”

The province doesn’t yet know the financial impact of the federal carbon tax on the budget, said Harpauer, including how it could affect costs for schools and health-care facilities.

She said economic indicators show the province’s economy and population is still growing.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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