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Surplus rises, borrowing decreases with first quarter results

Prudent-decision-making and keeping spending in check means the Government of Alberta is on track to run a surplus in 2014-15 while reducing its planned infrastructure borrowing by almost $3 billion.

Direct borrowing to support the capital plan is now forecast to be $2.1 billion in 2014-15, down from the expected $4.9 billion included in the budget.  

Actual results for the first quarter show an operational surplus of  $2.6 billion. Based on these results and updated economic and fiscal assumptions for the remainder of the year, a full fiscal plan surplus of $1.4 billion is forecast, up from the $1.1 billion estimate at budget. The full-year operational surplus is now expected to be $3.2 billion, up from $2.6 billion at budget.

“Albertans continue to reap the rewards of our government’s plan that put the brakes on unsustainable spending growth, while increasing our savings and building the infrastructure our growing province needs. A full surplus give us options that other provinces and countries don’t have, such as using more cash to build infrastructure, while maintaining investment in priority programs and services. We have turned a corner financially. Albertans can be confident this government will continue to make our province the best place anywhere to live, work and invest.”

Doug Horner, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance

Actual revenue for the first quarter was $12.3 billion, and the full year forecast is now $45.3 billion, up $915 million from budget mainly due to higher energy forecasts and stronger corporate income taxes.

Operational expense for the first quarter was $9.5 billion, and the full year forecast is now $40.8 billion, $328 million higher than budgeted. Increases include higher contributions from the Access to the Future Fund to match donations to post-secondary institutions, spending for the new Canada-Alberta Job Fund, funding to combat mountain pine beetle and re-profiling flood assistance spending from 2013-14.

Energy forecasts have also been revised to reflect a strong first quarter. The price of a barrel of WTI oil is now forecast to be $96.69 in 2014-15, up $1.47 from budget. The light-heavy differential forecast has declined from 26 per cent to 23 per cent. The natural gas price forecast has increased to $4.14 per gigajoule, up 85 cents. The exchange has also been increased by 1.5 cents to 92.5 US cent/Canadian dollar.

Alberta’s economy continues to power ahead. Real GDP is now expected to grow 3.8 per cent in 2014, up from 3.7. This reflects a stronger-than-expected labour market, continued migration into the province and accelerated activity in the business sector. Alberta’s population is now expected to grow by 3.1 per cent, up from 2.9 forecasted at budget. Alberta continues to be Canada’s job engine, with employment growth now forecast to be 2.9 per cent in 2014, up from 2.6 in budget.

This first quarter fiscal update provides some more information than previous quarterly updates. It now includes forecasts for expected year-end results on both a fiscal plan and a consolidated financial statement basis. It also has a detailed, full fiscal year forecast so that Albertans can compare Budget 2014 to current projections after the first three months of the fiscal year.

“I have consulted with the Auditor General on a reporting format that meets the needs of Albertans and addresses his concerns over providing a fully consolidated picture of Alberta’s finances. I am pleased to say that this first quarter update accomplishes this goal.”

Minister Horner

Under the Building Alberta Plan, our government is investing in families and communities, living within our means, and opening new markets for Alberta's resources to ensure we're able to fund the services Albertans told us matter most to them. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for.

2014-15 First Quarter results for the three months ended June 30 ($ millions)

Full year forecast

Budget
2014-15

Q1
forecast

Change

Total Revenue

  • Non-renewable resource revenue

$44,354

$9,209

$45,269

$9,821

+$915

+$612

Operational Expense

$40,432

$40,760

+$328

Operational Surplus

$2,644

$3,168

+$524

Change in net assets
(fiscal plan surplus)


$1,087

$1,385

+$298

First three months actuals

Estimate

Actual

Change

Operational Revenue

  • Non-renewable resource revenue

$11,236

$2,384

$12,107

$3,154

+$871

+$770

Operational Expense

$9,804

$9,543

(-$261)

Operational Surplus

$1,432

$2,564

+$1,132

Balance sheet

2013-14
year end

2014-15 forecast

Change

Heritage Fund and endowments

$18,562

$19,000

+$438

Contingency Account

$4,658

$5,000

+$342

Capital Plan

Budget
2014-15

Q1
Forecast

Change

Capital Plan spending

$6,599

$7,297

+$698

Direct borrowing

$4,883

$2,092

(-$2,791)


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