(Adds budget and debt details, potash price forecasts)
By Rod Nickel
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, March 19 The Western
Canadian province of Saskatchewan expects to post a slim surplus
in the 2014-15 fiscal year by trimming budget spending to help
offset a slip in revenue, the government said on Wednesday.
Saskatchewan has remained in surplus for two decades, even
as most provinces ran deficits when their economies slowed in
recent years. Its population surpassed 1.1 million in 2013 for
the first time, fueled by the expanding energy and mining
Revenues are expected to dip by 0.7 percent in 2014-15,
however, to C$14.07 billion ($12.59 billion). Premier Brad
Wall's right-leaning Saskatchewan Party government trimmed
spending by 0.2 percent to C$14 billion from the previous year's
"Our government's preference will always be to balance the
budget by controlling spending rather than by raising taxes,"
Finance Minister Ken Krawetz said in a statement.
Saskatchewan, which depends heavily on resource revenues and
a farm economy, forecast a C$71.4 million surplus in 2014-15.
The government said it expects the 2013-14 year, which ends
March 31, to finish C$591 million in the black.
Revenue is expected to drop from fees for certain goods and
services and income from government businesses such as the
province's liquor and gaming authority.
The province, home of potash mines owned by Potash
Corporation of Saskatchewan, Mosaic Co and
Agrium Inc, was stung last year by a drop in the
fertilizer's global price amid weakening grain prices and the
break-up of the Belarusian Potash Company, one of the world's
biggest potash traders.
In the next fiscal year, Saskatchewan expects revenue from
non-renewable resources, which include potash and crude oil, to
edge up to C$2.7 billion, although it sees potash prices falling
further. Potash will fetch an average price per tonne of $273.93
in 2014 and $275.72 in 2015, down from $345.27 per tonne last
year, according to government estimates.
Saskatchewan expects its total public debt to rise 8 percent
to C$11.8 billion by March 31, 2015, the end of the next fiscal
year. Its operational debt, which excludes debt held by
government-owned corporations, health authorities and school
divisions, is expected to remain at C$3.8 billion.
($1 = 1.1179 Canadian Dollars)
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Editing by