VANCOUVER, B.C. - A bond rating agency has given B.C. a glowing economic report, upholding the province's debt rating and suggesting it could return to a balanced budget a year earlier than expected.

The Dominion Bond Rating Service is maintaining B.C.'s long and short-term debt ratings at high, noting B.C. has one of the lowest debt burdens among all provinces.

However, it also says it expects the debt to grow over the next two years because of higher spending on health and public works stimulus projects before debt loads begin to shrink again.

The service says the province's forecast for economic growth of 2.2 per cent this year appears conservative in the face of private sector projections of 3.4 per cent.

Dominion says revenues from taxes and natural resources are expected to rise over the next two years, along with federal transfers related to the harmonized sale tax and the province might return to a balanced budget by the 2012-2013 fiscal year, instead of the following year.

When Finance Minister Colin Hansen brought down his budget in March, he said the province hoped to wipe out its $1.7 billion deficit by the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

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