Canada's Quebec province cuts taxes, sees C$4 bln 2023-24 deficit

TORONTO, March 21 (Reuters) - Canada's Quebec province on Tuesday forecast its budget deficit would narrow less than previously expected in the upcoming fiscal year as it cuts taxes and economic growth slows.

The mostly French-speaking province announced initiatives totaling C$24 billion ($17.5 billion) over the next five years, including a tax cut that will benefit 4.6 million people.

"We are introducing one of the largest tax cuts in Quebec’s history," Quebec Minister of Finance Eric Girard said in a statement. "This is a strong commitment from our government, which we are proud to honour."

Quebec projected a C$4 billion budget deficit for 2023-24, compared to a C$2.3 billion deficit that was seen in a fiscal update in December. The fiscal year begins on April 1.

The projected deficit includes a C$1.5 billion provision for economic risks and a deposit of C$2.4 billion to the Generations Fund, which is a fund dedicated to repaying the province's debt.

Quebec's net debt-to-GDP ratio is forecast to tick up to 37.7% at the end of the 2023-24 fiscal year from 37.4% in 2022-23 but to then gradually decline to 35.8% in 2027-28 when the budget is expected to be in balance.

The province, which is Canada's second-most populous province behind Ontario, expects economic growth to slow to 0.6% in the 2023 calendar year from 2.8% in 2022.

It sees a C$5 billion deficit in 2022-23, compared with the C$5.2 billion deficit projected in December.

($1 = 1.3710 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Lincoln Feast.

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