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Royalty revenues boost Saskatchewan surplus

Saskatchewan raised its projected budget surplus for the 2010-11 fiscal year Thursday, citing higher royalty revenue from oil and potash.

The province expects to post a $68.5 million surplus, about three times what it had forecast in its $10 billion budget, Finance Minister Ken Krawetz said in his mid-year report.

By contrast, neighbouring Alberta, which also depends on resource revenues, raised its record deficit forecast earlier this week.

As a result of its improved position and lower interest costs, Saskatchewan will not have to dip into its main savings reserve and will slightly reduce its year-end debt to $4.14 billion, said Randy Burton, a spokesman for the provincial Finance Department.

The province of one million people is a major producer of the crop nutrient potash, as well as uranium, grain and oil. It is home to world's biggest fertilizer maker, PotashCorp., and uranium major Cameco Corp.
 
Both oil and potash revenues are strong, Krawetz said, resulting in an increase of nearly $101 million in royalties from non-renewable resources since the first quarter.

Potash sales volumes look to more than double in 2010 to 8.8 million tonnes, the government said.

Saskatchewan projects a potash price of $342.97 US per tonne at the mine gate, which is unchanged since its first-quarter update, Burton said.
   
Another key reason for the province's improved financial position is stronger corporate income tax revenue, Krawetz said.

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