Economists cautiously optimistic about B.C.'s economy
The majority of B.C. Economic Forecast Council members predict B.C. real GDP growth will slightly outperform the Canadian average in 2013, Finance Minister Michael de Jong announced at the conclusion of the annual meeting of the council.
On average, the council expects B.C. real GDP growth to be 2.1 per cent in 2012, down minimally from its 2.2 per cent forecast in January of this year. The council also projects B.C. real GDP will grow 2.2 per cent in 2013, 2.6 per cent in 2014 and average 2.6 per cent for 2015-17. The council has lowered its growth projections for the province this year and next in light of ongoing weakness in the global economy.
“Our government is committed to balancing the budget in 2013-14. A balanced budget shows the world B.C.’s economy is stable, secure and ripe for investment,” said Ministry of Finance Michael de Jong at the end of the meeting. “It also protects our triple-A credit rating which allows us to continue to focus our investment in priority areas, including schools, health-care facilities and roads, which support job creation and benefit B.C. communities and families.”
Council members discussed their predictions for the B.C., Canadian, U.S., European and Asian economies. Topics included resource development and the potential of liquefied natural gas, the state of the US recovery, the European sovereign debt crisis, rising household debt, tax competitiveness, and the importance of meeting labour market demand through trades and skills training.
The Economic Forecast Council includes some of the most respected independent economic forecasters in Canada. The 14-member council’s mandate-as determined by the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act-is to provide economic advice to the Minister of Finance in developing each year’s budget and fiscal plan. Council members are surveyed twice a year, once in the fall and then again the following January.
British Columbia’s Ministry of Finance forecast in the September Quarterly Report that the provincial economy would grow 2.0 per cent in 2012, 1.8 per cent in 2013 and about 2.4 per cent annually in the following years. A new government forecast will be released with Budget 2013.