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Announcement:

Moody's Sees Slight Improvement in Nova Scotia's Budget

10 Apr 2015

Toronto, April 10, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service notes that Nova Scotia's 2015-16 Budget forecasts smaller deficits and a quicker return to fiscal equilibrium that, if realized, would contribute to a slight improvement in the province's debt profile. Nova Scotia anticipates a deficit of CAD97.6 million for 2015-16 (1.0% of revenue), down from the previous forecast of CAD166.0 million. The province now expects to achieve a budgetary surplus in 2016-17, one year earlier than previously expected.

Nova Scotia's 2015-16 Budget also shows that the deficit for 2014-15 is now estimated to be CAD102.1 million (1.0% of revenue), less than half of the original forecast of CAD279.0 million. The improved fiscal outcome for 2014-15 is attributed to both higher than expected revenues and lower than expected expenditures.

The rating agency noted, however, that the size of the planned deficits and surpluses is relatively small, which reduces the impact of the favourable change.

"While the province is forecasting a faster return to balanced budgets than previously planned, we note that neither the forecasted deficits nor surpluses across the budget horizon exert much pressure on the province's financial profile," said Michael Yake, Moody's Vice President. "We recognize that the province remains on track to achieving favourable fiscal outcomes, but the cumulative reduction in deficits of CAD388 million across the years 2014-2017 is equivalent to 1.3% of cumulative forecasted revenue. While positive, the impact on the province's debt burden is nonetheless marginal. As such, our view remains little changed compared to our previous forecasts."

With only a handful of revenue measures announced in the budget, revenues are forecasted to increase 1.6% in 2015-16 over estimated 2014-15 levels, with a further growth of 2.8% in 2016-17. The increase in revenues is in line with the province's expectations of relatively stronger economic activity.

As presented in the budget, Nova Scotia expects real GDP to increase 1.7% in 2015 and 1.5% in 2016. While this represents a pick-up in activity compared to prior years, due in large part to work associated with a large shipbuilding contract in the province, these growth levels are below the province's forecasts for real economic growth in Canada of 2.1% and 2.4% for 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Total expenditures are expected to grow 1.3% in 2015-16 followed by 1.6% in 2016-17, as the province continues to review program spending and total staff remuneration. Measures to control the latter include the reduction in the size of the civil service and prior to the budget's release the government announced a three-year wage freeze for non-union civil servants.

Nova Scotia intends to spend CAD490 million on capital infrastructure projects across the province in 2015-16, a level consistent with the past 2 years. Including financing required for the deficit and refinancing of maturing debt, the province intends to borrow CAD886 million in the fiscal year, in line with past expectations once short-term borrowing has been taken into account.

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

This announcement represents an update to markets.

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 Sees Slight Improvement in Nova Scotia's Budget
No Related Data.
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