FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government incurred a fifth consecutive deficit in fiscal 2012-13, according to the latest annual report of the auditor general, tabled in the legislative assembly today.

The report, reflecting audited financial statements for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013, indicated that the deficit of the provincial government exceeded $500 million. Nearly $1 billion was added to net debt, which is now exceeds $11 billion.

Auditor general Kim MacPherson noted, however, that the provincial government curbed spending favourably, increasingly 1.6 per cent from 2011 to 2013. By comparison, spending increased by 7.1 per cent or more in Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.

"Although recent government efforts to control spending are noteworthy, it is not enough," said MacPherson. "The province still has a structural deficit. A structural deficit is a sustained situation where expenses exceed revenues. It is also concerning that this fiscal imbalance persists in a time when our infrastructure such as buildings, roads and bridges are not being maintained and renewed at optimal levels."

MacPherson noted that in general, to correct a structural deficit, programs and services need to be reduced, revenues need to be increased, or some combination of the two needs to occur. The solution chosen is dependent on government policy and decision-making.

"Further fiscal diligence is required to improve the financial health of the province," said MacPherson.

MacPherson was concerned about the timing of the release of the March 31, 2013, audited financial statements, in October of this year.

"Financial information is most useful if it is timely," said MacPherson.

With the anticipated requirement to produce audited financial statements 60 days before the September 2014 general election, she offered her office's continued effort to work closely with the provincial government to deliver on the proposed timelines, adding it will require a collective effort by many participants to achieve this goal.

Today's report contains two volumes. Volume I focuses on matters arising from the annual financial audit of the provincial government and Crown agencies. Volume II reports the results of Value for Money projects completed during 2013. Both volumes are on the Office of the Auditor General website.


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