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Finance Minister Carole James says British Columbia’s economic growth remains “strong and stable” and the budget is on track to record a surplus in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

James says the operating debt, which builds up when tax or other revenue misses spending pledges made in a budget, has been reduced to zero for the first time in four decades.

She says the province’s second quarter results for this fiscal year show a projected surplus of $1.35-billion.

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The Finance Ministry forecasts GDP growth of 2.2 per cent this year, while the value of all goods and services produced by the province is forecast to climb by 1.8 per cent in 2019.

James says risks facing the province include a $250-million drop in Crown corporation earnings, mainly due to losses at the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, as well as a slowing down of the housing market.

To offset those risks, she says a fund that covers potentially volatile revenue changes has been increased by $600-million.

“That additional prudence is very critical ... to help mitigate any kind of provincial revenue impacts,” she told a news conference at the legislature on Monday.

James says RBC and other analysts remain positive about economic growth in B.C., forecasting the province will remain a leader in Canada this year and next, even before the benefits of a liquefied natural gas development in Kitimat are added to projections over the next several months.

“Private forecasters expect that B.C.’s economic growth will be strong. In fact, they are predicting that we are going to lead the provincial rankings in 2019,” she said.

The 2019-20 budget will be released Feb. 19, along with the third quarterly report.

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