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Wednesday, March 31, 2010 

Saskatchewan's Provincial Auditor Says Budget Is NOT Balanced!

"REGINA — Not surprisingly, Provincial Auditor Fred Wendel isn’t impressed with Finance Minister Rod Gantefoer’s characterization of Wednesday’s provincial budget as ‘balanced.’

In fact, Wendel believes calling the budget balanced is a misuse of accounting language to disguise what is really going on with the province’s finances.

“It’s very difficult for people — other than the few people who understand all the little things they do — to understand where we’re at… “

Of course, Wendel, a chartered accountant, knows where the province’s finances are at. That’s his job. And he knows that the provincial government is actually projecting a deficit — a deficit of $623 million in 2010-11, to be exact.

That’s on top of a deficit of $667 million in 2009-10, which was also called a ‘balanced budget’ by the Saskatchewan Party government.

Those deficit numbers are contained in the summary financial statements, which look at all government revenues and spending, including Crown Investments Corp. (CIC) crowns, like SaskTel and SaskPower.

Gantefoer, like Saskatchewan finance ministers before him, uses the General Revenue Fund, which only reports revenues and expenditures of government ministries and Treasury Board crowns. Gantefoer also uses the Growth and Financial Security Fund (GFSF), the province’s rainy day fund, to cover any deficit in the GRF and produce a surplus.

Wendel believes that the confusion over whether the budget is balanced or not helps the government persuade the public, as well as out-of-province financial institutions, that things are better than they actually are."

Saskatoon Star Phoenix



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