Alberta’s woes short? - Metro US

Alberta’s woes short?

Northern Alberta is primed and ready to withstand a worldwide economic meltdown better than anywhere else, a University of Alberta economist told city council yesterday.

Mike Percy, the university’s dean of economics, says Alberta will see its economy dip to “grimmer than expected” levels, but things should change for the better in 2010.

“So many fundamentals are positive in the case of Alberta — the best strategy is to treat this as short term,” said Percy yesterday.

Percy was among a handful of financial experts who met with council in city hall as it prepares for its next budget.

Angus Watt of National Bank Financial told council commodity prices would increase by the end of this year, but Alberta’s economy, that is far too dependent on oil and growth, is suffering from a “hiccup.”

“There is a need to borrow money for the long term infrastructure today,” said Watt. “There is a need to increase taxes, not just here in Edmonton … but throughout North America — we need to increase taxes because we need more money.”

Premier Ed Stelmach, who says borrowing billions in cash to fund more infrastructure projects is a “serious option” in Alberta’s upcoming budget, believes Alberta and the rest of the world could be in a worse situation if no relief is seen next year.

“We have to be very prudent over the next year or two when we’re budgeting and there will be tight budgets, there’s no doubt about it,” said Stelmach yesterday.

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