UPDATE 1-Canada budget to focus on infrastructure, manufacturers, skills

Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:58am EDT

Related Topics

* Budget to be delivered on Thursday

* Finance minister has pledged to balance budget by 2015

* Revenue expected to be lower than forecast

By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA, March 19 (Reuters) - Canada's 2013-14 budget will focus on infrastructure, helping manufacturers, and better aligning training with the skills employers need, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Tuesday.

"As we put the final touches on this year's plan, it is important to note that jobs and the economy remain our government's top priority," Flaherty wrote in a letter to the caucus of the governing Conservative Party ahead of Thursday's budget release.

"We will do more" on infrastructure, he said, without specifying if infrastructure spending would be higher than it was in the last budget. He also said "there is more we can do, and will do, to support" manufacturers and processors.

Flaherty said that while the economy continues to grow and create jobs, its recovery is fragile and faces significant threats from the United States and the European Union. He added that emerging economies are becoming more competitive.

Flaherty made no mention of the need for spending cuts to reach his target of balancing the budget by 2015, but a government official said on Monday the minister was having to cope with C$2.1 billion ($2.05 billion) less revenue than previously expected.

This is because nominal economic growth for 2013 is now seen at 3.3 percent, down from an earlier estimate of 4 percent.

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