02/07/2013 06:16 EST | Updated 04/09/2013 05:12 EDT

Brad Wall Says Saskatchewan Boom Not Over, Despite Restraint In Budget


REGINA - Premier Brad Wall says Saskatchewan's economy is still doing well, even while he talks about fiscal restraint in the upcoming budget.

That's because Wall says the economy and the budget are not always the same thing.

He says, for example, potash and oil revenue are down for the province, but those industries are growing in Saskatchewan.

"So we have all that expansion continuing, those jobs happening here in the province, but the revenue's not there because there's a tax incentive," Wall said Thursday at the legislature.

"I'm still very hopeful that we're going to continue to grow. I would say, though, that let's, for the purposes of discussion, de-link, at least to some extent, the budget from the economy. In '09 that was the case and to some extent it'll be the case again."

Saskatchewan's economy started booming in 2007, based largely on natural resource revenue, and has been strong despite the global economic downturn.

But the books have taken a hit, especially because of lower revenue from potash, a mineral used in fertilizer.

"If you talk to finance officials they will tell you, and energy and resources, that these things have been flattening out for most of the year. There have not been potash sales at the price we hoped for most of the year. The oil differential has started to pinch hard on the treasury this year," said the premier.

"And this year we set the record in terms of housing starts, and this year we led the nation in many respects in terms of retails sales and manufacturing."

The oil differential is the difference in price between light and heavy oil. Heavy crude, like that produced in the oilsands, has historically traded at a discount to West Texas Intermediate, a U.S. light oil benchmark.

When asked if he thinks the boom if over, Wall said: "Oh, gosh no."

"And the forecasters don't, those who are better prognosticaters than I am, have weighed in as well," said Wall.

"We're dealing with some budget work now...and so we start from the standpoint of what are the prognosticaters and the chartered banks and Conference Board (of Canada) and what are they saying about Saskatchewan's economy? And they're all picking us to be one, two or three in terms of economic growth."

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