* Flaherty says not obsessed with exact year of balanced
* Will present fall fiscal update within two weeks
By Louise Egan
MEXICO CITY, Nov 4 Canada will report within two
weeks that it is "close" to meeting its target of eliminating
the budget deficit in 2015-16, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty
said on Sunday, suggesting Ottawa may still be a few billion
dollars in the red at that time.
Canada ran a fiscal surplus for over a decade prior to the
global financial crisis, but then fell into deficit as it
injected cash into the economy to stimulate growth. In 2009, the
Conservative government pledged to balance the books again in
2015-16 through government spending cuts and economic growth.
More recently, Flaherty has avoided a precise date for
reaching that goal, referring only to reaching surplus in the
"If you look at what the numbers show us -- and I'll do the
fall economic update within a couple of weeks -- you'll see the
numbers and we're pretty close to balancing," Flaherty told
reporters just before hearing into a meeting of G20 finance
ministers and central bankers.
Flaherty said the assumptions in the fiscal outlook will be
conservative to account for the high level of risk in the global
economy. He said he wasn't so worried about being a year or two
behind schedule with the fiscal target.
"When you're looking at a budget of C$275 billion dollars
and you're looking at a few billion dollars of deficit, you're
pretty close," he said.
"I'm not obsessed with this year or that year. I am obsessed
with balancing in the medium term."
The G20 agreed in 2010 to halve deficits by 2013 but
Flaherty conceded on Sunday that the goal was not feasible for
the United States and that it could need more time.
He said if a fractious U.S. Congress did not act quickly
after Tuesday's elections to avert a rush of tax hikes and
spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff", the U.S. would fall
into recession and drag Canada along with it.
Canada has "tacitly gone along with" the U.S. Federal
Reserve's monetary easing policies, which is not sustainable
because in the long term it will lead to inflation, Flaherty
Flaherty said last month that lower commodity prices were
reducing the Canadian government's revenues and that it would
have an impact on the fiscal outlook. [ID: nL1E8LT57U]