Budget 2004 -- Government of British Columbia.
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Attestation by the Secretary to Treasury Board  
Part One: Three-Year Fiscal Plan  
- Inclusion of SUCH in Government's Budget and Reporting Framework
- The Oil and Gas Sector in British Columbia
- BC Rail Investment Partnership
- BC Employment and Assistance
- Bringing Out the Best in British Columbia's Economy
Part Two: Revenue Measures  
Part Three: British Columbia Economic Review and Outlook  
- The Economic Forecast Council, 2004
Part Four: 2003/04 Updated Financial Forecast (Third Quarterly Report)  

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February 17, 2004

As required by Section 7(d) of the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act (BTAA), I am confirming that the Budget and Fiscal Plan contains the following elements:

— The economic and fiscal forecasts for 2004/05, which are detailed in Part 1 and Part 3.

— All material economic, demographic, taxation, accounting policy and other assumptions underlying the 2004/05 economic, revenue, expenditure, surplus and debt forecasts are also disclosed. We have disclosed certain key assumptions regarding ongoing or anticipated negotiations. In particular:

— Government has provided no additional funding for future wage settlements beyond the 0-0-0 mandate, from 2003/04 to 2005/06;

— For budget planning purposes the status quo is assumed to prevail in the U.S. lumber dispute;

— BC's share of the additional $2 billion in federal Health Accord funds announced on January 30, 2004, is not included in the revenue forecast as the federal government has not finalized the transfer arrangements and the associated accounting treatment remains to be determined. Current planning assumptions would see any new funds committed to the health care budget in 2004/05 and 2005/06 with no anticipated bottom line effect;

— Equalization revenues may continue to be volatile and could be subject to substantial change as the federal entitlement formula is scheduled for renewal in 2004/05; and

— The BC Rail investment partnership is assumed to conclude by March 31, 2004. A delay is not expected to have an impact on the forecast 2004/05 surplus, although it would postpone the retirement of BC Rail debt into 2004/05. In addition, the Northern Development Initiative, the BC Rail First Nations Benefit Trust and a number of other related initiatives are assumed to be subject to the investment partnership being approved by the federal Competition Bureau. These expenditures are planned to take place in the same fiscal year as the transaction is recorded.

These and other major areas of risk to the plan known at this time are disclosed in the risks section in Part 1 and in the material assumption tables in the appendix.

— The report on the current advice of the Minister's Economic Forecast Council on economic growth, including the range of forecasts for 2004 and 2005. This is found at the end of Part 3.

Although not required by the BTAA, the most material assumptions and sensitivities for the subsequent two years of the fiscal plan are also disclosed.

The ministry spending plans included in this budget have been developed following reviews by Treasury Board and Government Caucus Committees. Crown corporation forecasts have been approved by the respective Boards of Directors. In addition, the Budget and Fiscal Plan is accompanied by service plans for ministries and Crown corporations, detailing the expected outcomes from the financial resources provided.

The Budget and Fiscal Plan conforms in all material respects to the standards set by the accounting profession for senior governments in Canada, referred to as generally accepted accounting principles or "GAAP". The main change required to fully comply with GAAP beginning in 2004/05 has been the integration of the financial forecasts of schools, universities, colleges and health authorities/societies (the SUCH sector) into government's revenue, spending and balance sheet projections. The SUCH sector forecasts have been provided by the management of the various organizations, with broad policy assumptions provided by the Ministries of Health Services, Advanced Education and Education. Every effort has been made to ensure that the financial information is compiled in a manner consistent with GAAP. However due to the timing of the budget, SUCH sector organizations submitted their forecasts prior to review and approval of these forecasts by their respective boards. As a result, final approved financial plans may differ from the management forecasts included in the Budget and Fiscal Plan.

As required under section 7(e) of the BTAA, the forecast allowance, which is an adjustment to the most likely forecast of the 2004/05 surplus, is also disclosed in the risks section in Part 1.

I would like to thank staff in all government ministries, Crown corporations and the SUCH sector for their work in developing the plans and preparing these multi-year economic and financial forecasts. I would like to especially acknowledge the hard work and dedication of my colleagues in the Ministry of Finance for the significant achievement of preparing a three year fiscal plan that is consistent with GAAP.

Paul Taylor
Deputy Minister and
Secretary to Treasury Board

Ministry of
Office of the
Deputy Minister
Mailing Address:
PO Box 9417
Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9V1
Location Address:
Room 109
617 Government Street
Victoria BC


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