Spring HST cut not happening as Nova Scotia surplus turns to deficit
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Spring HST cut not happening as Nova Scotia surplus turns to deficit

Nova Scotians will not be getting their cut to the HST this spring. The head of the Department of Finance says the province can’t afford it now.

Nova Scotia finance minister Diana Whalen is forecasting a deficit of $481.7 million for the current budget year, instead of the $18.3 million surplus for 2012-13 previously projected by the former NDP government.

“An accounting change to the Public Service Superannuation Plan, required by the Auditor General, has a $280-million bottom-line effect on the deficit,” said Whalen’s department. “The revenue forecasts made in the spring of 2013 have not materialized.”

She estimates the annual revenue for the province will be $9.3 billion. That’s $157.8 million less than the target in the budget.

Whalen confirmed that the one percentage point cut to the Harmonized Sales Tax promised by the previous government and put into legislation will not be introduced this spring.

“I am looking forward to our first budget in the spring. Our goal is to encourage an environment that permits economic growth,” said Whalen.

Highlights of the update include:

— Total revenues, including net income from government business enterprises, are forecast to be $9.3 billion, down $157.8 million from budget

— Prior years’ adjustments from provincial revenues sources are forecast to be a negative $124.8 million

— Total expenses are forecast to be $9.9 billion, up $328.5 million from budget. The auditor general’s Nov. 29 decision on accounting for the pension liability had a $280.3-million impact

— While, departmental spending is forecast to be $85.6 million higher than budget, $36.4 million of that is offset by of this is money the province receives or recovers from other levels of government

— Gross debt-servicing costs are forecast to be $34.1 million lower than budget, primarily from the pension valuation adjustment

— Six additional appropriations, totaling $360.6 million, were needed, including the pension valuation adjustment,and departmental costs: primarily at Community Services and Health and Wellness, as well as funds for the Yarmouth Ferry

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