Province Meets Budget Savings Target

first_img The government has succeeded in reducing overall spending by $32million — about two-thirds of one per cent of total programspending for the year. Finance Minister Peter Christie saidtoday, Nov. 21, that the savings came from operations rightacross the provincial government, with two notable exceptions. “The priorities of Nova Scotians — patients in the care of ourhospitals and children learning in our schools — wereprotected.” The minister said Nova Scotia is not alone in the budget battlethis year. Slower than anticipated growth in the national economy blamed on a multitude of factors from SARS to one case of mad cow disease in Alberta — combined with ever-rising costs for health care have taken a toll on the finances of many provinces. “Most provinces are struggling this budget year. Health costs areclimbing faster than we can pay. Revenues are down all over. Nova Scotia, in the earliest stages of financial recovery, isparticularly vulnerable.” The minister said keeping Nova Scotia’s finances in the blackremains a tall order. “We’re on the right track. Financial stability breeds economicgrowth, and that means a better life for Nova Scotians and moresecure public services. We’re on the right track, but we stillhave a way to go.” In 2002-03, Nova Scotia recorded a balanced budget, based onaccrual accounting that is universally accepted in the financialcommunity. Nova Scotia’s auditor general maintains that theprovince is a national leader in public financial accountability,given its compliance with Generally Accepted AccountingPrinciples. The 2002-03 surplus was the province’s first in 40years. Mr. Christie said operational savings across government accountfor about half of the $32 million savings targeted in his mid-year Budget Management Plan. The other half comes largely fromdeferral of planned spending. While the government managed to confine most of the savings tointernal operations, the minister cautioned that the delivery ofsome government services could still be affected. Job vacanciesin government will go unfilled and virtually every administrativebudget has been squeezed. “Departments are already operating on slimmed-down budgets, soit’s not easy to find savings. We appreciate the effort they aremaking to ensure Nova Scotia maintains its improved financialstatus, and improved credit rating position.” In mid-September, Mr. Christie forecast a fiscal year-end surplusof half a million dollars, down from the $2.8 million surplusprojected in the spring budget. The next update on the province’sfinancial picture will come in December, and contain updatedrevenue data that will help determine whether a balanced budgetfor 2003-04 is still within reach. All departments contributed to the Budget Management Plan. The Department of Community Services identified $5.8 million insavings, which is 0.87 per cent of the department’s $666.4million 2003-2004 budget. Savings of $5.5 million from theDepartment of Education amounts to a 0.46 reduction in thatdepartment’s annual budget. As part of its total $4.4 million (1.79 per cent) savings, theDepartment of Transportation and Public Works is deferring somemaintenance work until spring. The Department of Health, with far and away the largest budget ingovernment at $2.2 billion, is contributing 0.18 per cent or $3.7million in savings. Smaller government operations, while not saving those largedollar amounts, are contributing at a higher proportionate level in many cases parring two per cent or more from annual budgets. Total savings from various Public Service operations amount to $3.7 million. Included in that is $1.4 million from Nova Scotia Business Inc, which is reducing its payroll rebate budget.center_img The budget reductions are effective immediately. FINANCE -Province Meets Budget Savings Targetlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *