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Canada’s Flaherty Says He’ll Present Budget March 29

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he will present a budget on March 29 that will avoid drastic spending cuts and take measures to promote growth, even as he seeks to balance the budget by 2015.

Canada remains set to eliminate its budget deficit in the medium term, Flaherty told reporters in Ottawa today. Flaherty has pledged to bring the federal government’s finances back into surplus by the fiscal year starting April 2015 by withdrawing stimulus and cutting annual operating expenses.

“We’re on track for the medium term, there’s been no significant change in the track,” Flaherty said. “We’re talking about relatively small spending reductions, certainly nothing more than moderate spending reductions in a budget of that size.”

In November, Flaherty cut his projections for government revenue to reflect weakening global growth prospects, and said slower-than-anticipated expansion would delay initial plans to balance the budget by 2014. In Mexico City on Feb. 27, Flaherty said discussions at a Group of 20 meeting last weekend gave him “solace” in Europe’s ability to resolve its debt crisis.

Flaherty said today that deficit reduction is only one part of his fiscal plan.

Trimming spending is “just one aspect of it,” he said. “This is a jobs-and-growth budget.”

In a budget update released Nov. 8, Flaherty projected deficits of C$31 billion in 2011-12, C$26.4 billion in 2012-13, C$15 billion in 2013-14, and C$3.5 billion in 2014-15, before swinging to surpluses of C$600 million in 2015-16 and C$4.5 billion in 2016-17. The outlook included savings from a projected review of operating expenses. Without those savings, it would take an additional year to return to surplus, he said.

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