Flaherty Says Canada May Move Forward the Target Date for Balanced Budget

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he may consider bringing forward a goal of balancing the budget within five years after consulting with various groups over the next few months.

Flaherty, in Montreal today for pre-budget consultations, told reporters Canada is on the “right track,” while the global recovery remains “fragile.”

Flaherty is seeking to make Canada the first country in the Group of Seven to balance its budget by 2015-16, even as he cuts corporate income taxes and faces a weak global recovery that threatens to slow revenue. The minister expects deficits totaling C$107 billion ($106.4 billion) through 2016.

Asked if he would consider postponing the target, Flaherty initially answered “Yes, we are open to that. We are listening.”

Flaherty then said he will also consider the opposite scenario: a return to balance sooner than 2015-16.

“To do that would require some measures, and some increasing restraint on spending,” he said. “So we have to look at that, and look at that carefully because we do have modest economic growth, and we have to make sure that we continue modest economic growth.”

Canadian governments typically release budgets before the start of the fiscal year, which begins April 1.

To contact the reporter for this story: Frederic Tomesco in Montreal at tomesco@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David Scanlan at dscanlan@bloomberg.net

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