Quebec government backs away from balanced-budget pledge

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Quebec government backs away from balanced-budget pledge

QUEBEC - The Quebec government is warning that it might abandon its plan to balance next year's budget.

Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau says the government does not want to sacrifice economic growth in exchange for eliminating the deficit.

In its last budget, the PQ forecast that it would balance the books by 2013-14.

Last year's zero-deficit pledge by the newly elected minority PQ government was widely viewed as a way to shore up its economic credentials amid criticism that it leaned too far to the left.

That subsequently opened the party to attack from its progressive flank, as the PQ found itself squeezed between the right and left.

Ex-premier and PQ heavyweight Jacques Parizeau lashed out at the Marois government — arguing that a zero-deficit obsession would prevent the party from reflecting on other goals, like free university tuition.

Now it appears the balanced-budget target might ultimately succumb to another pressure: a lacklustre economy.

Speaking to reporters today, Marceau says the government is facing difficulties when it comes to generating revenues.

He says creating jobs is the government's priority and he wants to avoid taking any measures that might jeopardize that.

Marceau says the government will also focus on controlling expenses and the debt.

The PQ government ran a $1.6-billion deficit during the 2012-13 fiscal year — $100 million more than it had projected.

Organizations: PQ

Geographic location: Quebec

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