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Flaherty Says G-20 Europe Progress Gives Budget Solace

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said discussion at a Group of 20 meeting in Mexico gave him “solace” in Europe’s ability to resolve its debt crisis as he prepares to complete his next budget plan.

Flaherty, speaking to reporters after the two-day meeting over the weekend, said he is encouraged by recent steps in Europe to resolve its debt crisis and has become “modestly” more confident the region will set up a fund to keep Greece’s debt crisis from spreading to other nations. His 2012 budget hasn’t been completed, he said.

“Some things have not been decided,” Flaherty said when asked about his fiscal plan, without elaborating. “We’ve been quite worried about the situation in Europe. I think this weekend has provided some degree of solace on that subject and the actions that have been taken recently.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel has signaled she is open to review the matter of shoring up the region’s rescue funds at this week’s EU summit in Brussels. Finance ministers and central bankers from G-20 nations agreed over the weekend that a European review of its financial firewall against the crisis would be “essential” before any consideration to boost funding for the International Monetary Fund in April.

“I’m encouraged modestly about what they said this weekend,” Flaherty said in Mexico City. “I’m a little bit more confident.”

Flaherty, who has yet to provide a date for the release of the plan for the fiscal year that begins April 1, said the budget will include some detail of how the government plans to reduce operating expenses by C$4 billion ($4 billion) annually, as part of efforts to balance the budget by 2015.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Feb. 24 that Flaherty won’t include details of his plans to cut spending in the fiscal plan, without saying where it obtained the information.

“We’re not going to have a blank page. We will provide sufficient information so that people can understand what the government is doing and why,” Flaherty said.

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