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Tough choices for NDP after report paints grim fiscal picture

The NDP government is facing many tough choices as new data shows the province heading into billions of dollars of debt.

The NDP government is facing many tough choices as new data shows the province heading into billions of dollars of debt.

Not trusting the Progressive Conservative budget, the NDP commissioned independent firm Deloitte to do an audit of the province’s books. The report, titled Province of Nova Scotia Financial Review, was publicly released yesterday and the numbers were much worse than earlier projections.

The report predicts a provincial deficit of $50-million this year, which is relatively small compared to a projected $1.3-billion deficit in 2012-13. All told the government will need to borrow about $200 million this year to pay its bills.

These figures also include re-borrowing offshore money the province received in 2003, a move allowed by accounting rules but illegal under provincial law.

The Tories were defeated when they tried to use the money in their budget last spring they were, pulling the trigger on the election.

Finance Minister Graham Steele was quick to say the NDP would not follow down the “unsustainable path” set by the Tories. He said the government is trying to find a way to stay in the black but didn’t say what measures were being considered.

“The path that we were on, that the previous government put us on, is not sustainable. Change is necessary,” he said.

According to the report, Nova Scotia’s biggest challenge are expenses that project to rise steadily while revenues stall, or in some years even drop.

 
 
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