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Ottawa beating deficit target Add to ...

The Conservative government is expected to beat its deficit target for the last fiscal year, but the final numbers won't be known until fall.

According to the Fiscal Monitor - a monthly tracking report - the federal deficit from April 1, 2010, to March 31, 2011, stands at $34.4-billion. That's nearly $6-billion lower than the $40.5-billion deficit forecast in the March, 2011, budget that failed to win Parliamentary support before the election.

However the report cautions against citing the $6-billion figure, as further adjustments are expected before the final number is released in the fall.

"We expect these end-of-year adjustments to increase the deficit from the $34.4-billion amount," states the Finance Canada report. "However, based on the results to date, the final 2010-11 deficit is expected to be lower than $40.5-billion projected in the March 22 budget, largely due to lower program expenses."

The report promises a further update in the June 6 budget, which will largely re-introduce the measures proposed in the March 22 budget.

As for the monthly tracking, Ottawa recorded a $6.2-billion deficit in March, 2011, compared to a $6.4-billion deficit in March, 2010. For the year as a whole, the $34.4-billion deficit is down from $47-billion during the same period a year earlier.

Year-over-year numbers for government revenue show Ottawa collected 5.6-per-cent more in personal income tax, 2.3-per-cent more in corporate income tax, 10.8-per-cent less in non-resident income tax, 6-per-cent more in GST, 2.6-per-cent more in customs import duties and 12-per-cent more in other excise taxes and duties.

Over all, total tax revenues were up 4.7 per cent.

On the spending side, program expenses were $236.7-billion, a 0.4-per-cent decrease from the year before, while public debt charges rose 4.7 per cent to $30.9-billion due to a higher debt burden.

The March budget forecast Canada's debt will climb from $519-billion in 2009-10 to $615-billion in 2014-15 before Ottawa erases the deficit and returns to paying down debt.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are promising to erase the deficit in 2014-15, a year earlier than outlined in the March budget.

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