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Finance minister will deliver NWT budget on Thursday

Finance minister Michael Miltenberger will deliver the territorial budget on Thursday afternoon.

It’s the last budget before territorial elections take place in the fall.

Miltenberger spent two months in late 2014 travelling the Northwest Territories, gathering feedback from residents to help in preparation of the budget.

Read: Decision on NWT’s $1bn borrowing increase ‘imminent’

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However, turnout to Miltenberger’s “budget dialogues” was low.

In total, only 97 people – a figure which includes some journalists – turned up to meetings in seven regional centres.

“We want to see if the government is actually listening to what is being said in these dialogues,” said Alfred Moses, the MLA for Inuvik Boot Lake, as the legislative assembly began its latest session on Wednesday.

Miltenberger, addressing the assembly, said: “Without wanting to get ahead of my budget address, I will make the observation that the projections are for flat revenue growth between now and 2019-2020.

“The challenge for us is going to be to make sure that our expenditure growth does not exceed our revenue growth, so we can maintain our AA1 credit rating and all the other good financial indicators we have, like our debt-to-GDP ratio.”

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Miltenberger also stressed the importance he places on the federal government agreeing to increase the territory’s borrowing limit from $800 million to $1.8 billion.

“If we are unsuccessful and we are left with an $800 million borrowing limit, our capacity to do anything new to build the Northwest Territories, to implement the vision of the people of the Northwest Territories, will be severely curtailed,” he warned.

“Then we will be reduced to concluding the projects on our books, to try to free up some capital.

“Without that increase, we are going to be severely constrained for the life of this government, and the next.”

Earlier in the afternoon, NWT Premier Bob McLeod said he expected the federal government to deliver its decision by April.

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