Two days after having tabled his annual budget surrounded by an accounting surplus of $ 2.7 billion, the Minister of Finance of Quebec does not rule out that the impact of the coronavirus could cause a deficit.
“I do not exclude a deficit,” admitted Eric Girard, Thursday morning, in the press scrum before his entry to the daily meeting of elected officials of the Coalition Future Quebec (CAQ).
“If businesses and individuals need our help, we will be there. The Quebec economy has solid foundations, ”continued Minister Girard, repeating here what he said Tuesday.
Mr. Girard admits that “the budget forecasts are clearly at risk”, he who wrote a growth forecast of 2% for the next 12 months.
“We see that the first and second quarters [three-month period] of the year will be very weak. The evolution of the pandemic will tell us what rebound we will have in the second half [six month period]. We have seen in similar past situations that it takes two to three quarters to recover what we have lost. ”
The Minister of Finance emphasizes that the announced balanced budget is actually based on an accounting surplus of $ 2.7 billion, an amount automatically paid into the Generations Fund to reduce the debt.
This money can therefore be used up or even used up before falling into a deficit.
“We have a budget that provided for $ 118 billion in spending, we have the capacity to do whatever we want,” said Minister Girard, who is also part of a provincial economic vigilance committee made up of eight ministers put on step up to meet the economic challenges associated with COVID-19.