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Alberta revisits energy revenue

Provincial leader warned of $7 billion revenue shortfall.

By Daniel J. Graeber

CALGARY, Alberta, March 27 (UPI) -- A new budget plan outlined for the provincial government in Alberta moves energy revenues from spending to saving, Premier Jim Prentice said.

"It is no longer good enough that we go from boom to bust budgets and come up with another set of patchwork solutions," the premier said.

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The budget unveiled by the provincial government describes energy revenue as a "heritage legacy" that should no longer be reserved solely to fund its day-to-day expenses. By 2018-19, the portion of energy revenues funding the government will decrease to 75 percent and to 50 percent in 2019-20.

By 2020, 25 percent of revenue generated from the energy sector will go to a trust fund. That amount will grow later to 50 percent as Alberta pays off its debts.

Prentice earlier this month said the provincial government was looking at a $7 billion revenue shortfall next year. He called on lawmakers to focus on a sustainable economic model that does away with an over-reliance on revenue generated from oil and natural gas.

A January report from the International Monetary Fund found lower crude oil prices would be a drag on investment activity in Canada, with the energy sector bearing the brunt of market trends

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Nearly all of the oil Canada exports heads to a U.S. market that relies less on foreign resources in part because of the increase in production from shale reserves.

Provincial Energy Minister Frank Oberle said energy would nonetheless remain a pillar of the provincial economy.

"We continue our focus on expanding market access for our energy resources and demonstrating through actions that we are a responsible energy producer," he said.

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