The B.C. government’s budget surplus is projected to reach $1.35 billion by the end of the fiscal year in March 2019, Finance Minister Carole James says.
Presenting the province’s second quarter financial report Monday, James said B.C. continues to benefit from higher than forecast personal and corporate income tax revenue, with strong employment and 2.4 per cent growth in the economy, the highest in Canada.
The continued surplus comes in spite of an expected $150 million drop in property transfer tax revenue, and an additional $206 million decrease in net revenue from the Insurance Corp. of B.C. Forest fire and flood costs were up $160 million above last February’s budget forecast.
Growth projections are helped by the signing of a new Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade agreement, and a decision by LNG Canada to proceed with a natural gas export terminal at Kitimat.
James said the state of the province’s books halfway through the fiscal year allows her to state that the province’s direct operating debt has been eliminated. The previous B.C. Liberal government projected that as early as three years ago.
Capital debt continues to rise, financing construction of schools, hospitals and the NDP government’s housing plan, but James said the province’s debt-to-GDP ratio is now the lowest it has been since the 2008 financial crisis.
Income tax revenue is projected to come in $1.6 billion higher than forecast. Natural resource income to the province is also running $51 million higher as of September, the halfway point of the fiscal year.