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Provincial budget questioned after oil drops to $31 a barrel

People arose Monday morning to a shock with news that the Dow Jones and TSX had shut down due to trade stocks plummeting and oil hitting $31.13 US a barrel.

People arose Monday morning to a shock with news that the Dow Jones and TSX had shut down due to trade stocks plummeting and oil hitting $31.13 US a barrel.

The recent tank in the economy comes not only from the widespread COVID-19, but also from the trade war brewing with Saudi Arabia and Russia due to oil prices.

With Saskatchewan’s budget set be released on March 18, many questioned the validity of the budget that will be proposed.

Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said Monday due to moves made in previous budgets, natural resources only accounts for about 4.5 per cent of their budget.

“Should we need to do an adjustment because this is going to be long and sustained, then we’ll have to come up with another plan going forward. We have proven in the past that we can do that,” said Harpauer.

Harpauer added with the previous downturn they built a deficit of about $1.3 billion and said if oil were to stay at $30 a barrel for the whole year, they would only suffer a $500 million deficit.

“Should we need to do an adjustment because this is going to be long and sustained, then we’ll have to come up with another plan going forward. We have proven in the past that we can do that,” said Harpauer.

“By changing our revenue streams and making our budget more stable we have been able to change what we are able to adjust,” she added.

Opposition leader Ryan Meili said he has questioned this whole time if they will receive an honest budget due to economic woes.

“Everything has changed. We already had serious concerns that we weren’t going to see a very honest or valid budget from a government that is about to go into a snap election, that is wanting to put the best face on a bad situation.”

Russia’s Finance Ministry said in a statement Monday they have enough reserves to cover the $25 to $30 a barrel hit on oil for 6-10 years.

Jordan Stricker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Estevan Mercury

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