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Announcement:

Moody's: Quebec remains on track to return to balance

27 Mar 2015

Toronto, March 27, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service notes that the Province of Quebec continues to follow its plan first announced last year of returning to balanced budgets in 2015/16. As outlined in the province's recently released 2015/16 Budget, Quebec forecasts a deficit of CAD2.35 billion for 2014/15, and a balanced budget for 2015/16.

The return to balance continues to focus primarily on the province's ability to control expenditures. After recording expenditure growth of 5.1% in 2013/14 this is expected to have slowed to 2.3% in 2014/15 and to slow again to 1.5% in 2015/16. A slight pick-up is anticipated once balanced budgets are achieved.

"We noted in the past that the government's efforts to limit expenditure growth appeared ambitious," noted Michael Yake, Moody's Vice President and lead analyst for the Province of Quebec. "Our focus will now shift to see if the decrease in expenditure growth is sustainable and will remain conducive to balanced budgets." The Province of Quebec forecasts annual growth in health and social services to fall to 1.4% in 2015/16 from 4.2% in 2014/15 while growth in education spending will fall to just 0.2% in 2015/16 from 1.6% in 2014/15.

For their part, revenues are expected to grow 4.3% in 2015/16. Revenues are supported by a growing economy sustained by a strengthening external sector. The decline in the Canadian dollar relative to the US dollar, as well as the improving US economy, has helped support Quebec's exporting sectors. Quebec forecasts real GDP to grow 2.0% in both 2015 and 2016, after an estimated 1.5% expansion in 2014. Nominal GDP is forecast to grow 3.8% in 2015 and 3.4% in 2016 after estimated growth of 3.5% in 2014.

Included in the province's fiscal outcome are transfers to the Generations Fund, the province's debt repayment fund. The province continues to plan for a gradual reduction of its debt burden, targeting gross debt equal to 45% of GDP by 2026. Quebec's gross debt is forecast at 54.9% of GDP at March 31, 2015. With a balanced budget, Quebec's debt will increase only from financing for capital expenditures. With planned infrastructure spending totaling CAD88.4 billion over the next 10 years, of which CAD9.9 billion will be spent in 2015/16, Quebec's debt should grow at a rate slightly below that of revenue over the next few years.

The 2015/16 Budget also provides some insight into future revenue measures that the province may take. The province initiated a committee last year to explore potential reforms of the province's taxation system. Moody's has noted in the past that Quebec's fiscal flexibility is constrained by a high level of taxation which leaves little room for further tax increases. With some measures expected to begin in January 2016, the budget signals Quebec's intention to reduce the tax burden over a period five years.

As part of its normal monitoring process, Moody's will evaluate the 2015/16 budget's assumptions and its potential for upside and downside risks within the context of likely impacts on the province's debt burden.

This announcement represents an update to markets and does not constitute a rating action.

This publication does not announce a credit rating action. For any credit ratings referenced in this publication, please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the most updated credit rating action information and rating history.

Michael Yake
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Sub-sovereign Group
Moody's Canada Inc.
70 York Street
Suite 1400
Toronto, ON M5J 1S9
Canada
(416) 214-1635

David M Rubinoff
MD - Sub-Sovereigns
Sub-sovereign Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Canada Inc.
70 York Street
Suite 1400
Toronto, ON M5J 1S9
Canada
(416) 214-1635

Moody's: Quebec remains on track to return to balance
No Related Data.
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