QUEBEC - Quebec will table a provincial budget on March 20 that may well set the table for a general election later in the spring.
With Premier Jean Charest into the fourth year of his term, Finance Minister Raymond Bachand's budget could serve as a springboard for the Liberals' bid for a fourth straight mandate.
Bachand played down the vote angle on Tuesday, saying the budget is not being prepared with an election timetable in mind.
''We must create conditions for creating wealth and prosperity,'' he said in Quebec City.
He said he has no intention of increasing the tax burden of Quebecers, which is already considered the heaviest in Canada, and that he wants to better support businesses by making it easier to have access to capital.
The March 20 budget will come nine days before the federal one, which is expected to make considerable spending cuts.
Bachand's budget will likely contain several measures aimed at attracting investors to pour money into Charest's ambitious plan to develop northern Quebec.
Quebecers will also find out whether Bachand is on track to balance the province's books in 2013-14.
Last year, he forecast a $3.8-billion deficit in 2011-12.