BC NDP blames ‘miscalculation’ for ballooning deficit 0
B.C. Premier Christy Clark addressing the BC Liberal caucus in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday May 23, 2013. CARMINE MARINELLI / 24 HOURS)
British Columbia ended the 2012-2013 fiscal year with a deficit of more than $1.146 billion, exceeding its predicted target by almost $180 million.
Victoria is blaming the shortfall on provincial revenues being $1.1 billion lower than expected due to declining revenues in resource sectors.
The provincial government also pegged the loss on more spending on social services, particularly $585 million for health care.
But BC NDP finance critic Mike Farnworth said the BC Liberals made a “significant miscalculation” in predicting resource revenues resulting in lacklustre tax income.
“They projected a deficit of $968 million and the actual deficit came in at $1.14 billion. They missed their target by $178 billion,” said Farnworth. “That shows you how reliable their projection for this year’s surplus is.”
Farnworth blamed a large part of the deficit on agreements made between the province and private corporations.
“One of the real stories in this is the growth in contractual obligations from $34 billion in 2006 to $100 billion in 2013,” he said. “These are long-term financial obligations that the people of British Columbia are committed to.”
He also said there are “real questions” around the accountability and transparency of such contracts.
IntegrityBC’s Dermod Travis agreed there was concern about next year’s provincial finances given this recent shortfall.
“What should alarm British Columbians about today's numbers is that the B.C. government over-estimated its revenue,” said Travis. “All of which adds to the improbability that this year's budget will in fact be balanced when the final numbers come in."