B.C. deficit smaller, but gov't spent more on Olympics

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER - The bad news: British Columbia is still deep in the red.

The good news: The deficit is smaller than expected.

The Thursday-published public accounts for the year ended March 31, 2009 show $37.521 billion in revenue and $39.3 billion in expenses for a $1.779 billion deficit. That’s almost $1 billion less than forecast. Spending cuts and revenue from Crown corporations helped soften the blow.

The B.C. Liberals won the May 2009 election on a projected $495 million deficit, but announced the Harmonized Sales Tax two months later and admitted a $2.8 billion shortfall in last September’s budget.

The provincial debt, however, is almost $41.9 billion -- up $3.87 billion -- because of borrowing for capital works.

Finance and Olympics minister Colin Hansen admitted the government spent more than its $765 million commitment for the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. A report will be issued Friday morning.

“The cost of leveraging the Games was over and above that, we will have a full accounting of that,” Hansen said.

Financial statements for the fiscal year also released Thursday show the Finance ministry paid the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee $19.2 million and the Healthy Living and Sport ministry paid $25.68 million.

VANOC is also listed under “other suppliers” for receiving $48.18 million.

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