(Corrects previous forecast in second paragraph to C$1.1
billion from C$2.6 billion)
CALGARY, Alberta Nov 26 (Reuters) – The Canadian province
of Alberta, the largest exporter of oil to the United States,
said on Wednesday it still expects to post an operating budget
surplus for the current fiscal year despite lower prices for
Robin Campbell, the province’s finance minister, said in his
second-quarter budget update that Alberta expects to post a
C$933 million ($830.8 million) surplus in the 2014/2015 fiscal
year, down from the C$1.1 billion it forecast in March when it
presented the budget.
Alberta, whose oil sands are the world’s third largest crude
reserve, relies on payments from its oil and gas sector for
about a third of its budget. Despite a 30 percent drop in
benchmark crude prices since late June, the province bumped up
its revenue expectations to C$45 billion, up C$600 million from
“Oil revenues are down right now but understand the Alberta
economy is doing great,” Campbell told reporters on a conference
call. “Our forest industry is doing well, agriculture is doing
well, we’re doing well in manufacturing. … We have some
challenges in revenue at the government level but the province
from an economy point of view is doing quite well.
Alberta now expects oil prices to average $88.88 a barrel
over the fiscal year that ends on March 31, down from its
initial estimate of $100.08. It still expects higher corporate
taxes and a C$146 million increase in resource revenue.
Spending, outside of planned capital projects, is expected
to total C$40.9 billion, up from C$40.4 billion called for in
the March 2014 budget. However, the government plans to cut back
on the borrowing it does to pay for the new schools, hospitals
and other infrastructure needed in the rapidly growing province.
It now expects to borrow C$2.2 billion, down from an originally
expected C$4.9 billion.
The second-quarter fiscal update is the first presented by
Campbell, who became finance minister in September when Jim
Prentice, a former federal minister and investment banker,
became the province’s premier and revamped his cabinet.
(1 US dollar = 1.1230 Canadian dollar)