Fiscal update shows improved deficit, reduced spending for province

Tribune-Post Staff
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NEW BRUNSWICK – The provincial government has released its audited financial statements for the 2013-14 fiscal year and an economic and fiscal update for the first quarter of 2014-15.

The release of the audited statements 60 days prior to the election complies with a provision in the recently-passed Fiscal Transparency and Accountability Act.

The province is reporting a deficit of $498.7 million for 2013-14, an improvement of $65.3 million over the $564 million deficit projected at third quarter and slightly more than the budgeted deficit of $478.7 million.

“By embracing a culture of continuous improvement, our public service has been able to reduce expenses across government,” said Finance Minister Blaine Higgs. “This helped us to manage our revenue challenges and improve our budget performance over what was projected at third quarter.”

The 2013-14 expenses came in $210.4 million under budget, and were $33.2 million less than the expenses in 2012-13.

In 2013-14, government revenues were lower due to a $187.7 million shortfall in tax revenue and a reduction in expected income from the Government Business Enterprises of $59 million, primarily due to weaker-than-expected results for the New Brunswick Power Corporation resulting from increased purchased power costs, issues at Point Lepreau and an exceptionally cold winter.

“One of our key priorities has been to live within our means so that we can return to balanced budgets and address our province’s debt,” said Higgs, “We are proud that overall government spending has increased by an average annual growth of just 0.8 per cent over the last four years compared to 5.9 per cent over the previous four years.”

For the first quarter of 2014-15, there is now a projected deficit of $387.3 million. This is an improvement of $3.9 million compared to the budget deficit of $391.1 million.

Revenues are $6 million higher than budget due to increases in the Special Operating Agency revenue, conditional grants and metallic minerals tax revenue.

Total expenses are projected to be $2.1 million higher than budget with savings in health and general government offsetting added costs relating to the spring flooding and winter maintenance programs.

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Organizations: Government Business Enterprises, New Brunswick Power, Special Operating Agency

Geographic location: NEW BRUNSWICK

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