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Budget deficit shrinks in December

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Higher tax revenues helped Canada cut its budget deficit in the first nine months of the 2011-12 fiscal year to $17.69 billion from $27.37 billion in the same period the previous year, the government said on Friday.

In December 2011, an 6.8 percent jump in revenues meant the deficit fell to $353 million from $1.35 billion in December 2010, the finance ministry said in a statement. Program expenses were up by 2.7 percent.

Over the first nine months of the year revenues were up 4.2 percent, primarily reflecting higher income tax revenues. Program expenses were down by 1.8 percent.

The Conservative government says it will not be able to eliminate the budget deficit by 2014-15 as initially promised, and has pushed back the date for balancing the government's books by one year to 2015-16.

Ottawa forecasts the 2011-12 deficit will be $31 billion, even though the data so far suggests the shortfall will be lower.

CTV.ca CTV Two CTV News CTV News Channel BNN - Business News Network CP24