FREDERICTON (CNB) – Provincial departments have been instructed to examine their budgets and prepare a plan to make a one-per-cent cut for the current fiscal year.

The departments must find these savings between now and the end of March 2011. They have been asked to report back in two weeks with a plan to achieve these savings.

"As a government, we are spending at least 10 per cent more than we are bringing in,” said Finance Minister Blaine Higgs. “This gap between spending and revenue is serious and unsustainable. That is why we are requiring departments to find one per cent in budget savings for the remainder of the current fiscal year."

Higgs expected this move will save about $60 million.

"As I have mentioned in the past week, the required budget adjustment will become two per cent going forward," Higgs said. "This will save New Brunswick taxpayers about $150 million annually during the next fiscal year and beyond."

Higgs said that managing the province’s finances requires immediate and sustained discipline across government to ensure that New Brunswickers can continue to receive the programs and services they require over the long term.

"No department is exempt from this challenge,” said Higgs. “The fact is, money is tight and frugality must be the order of the day. We are relying on each department to think creatively about how to provide programs and services efficiently, effectively and at less cost. It is everyone's job to help find these savings."