NWT, Alberta to host public budget consultations

NWT, Alberta to host public budget consultations

They’re tough choices, but someone has to make them. Perhaps that’s why the governments of Alberta and the Northwest Territories are asking residents for help with financial decision-making this fall.

For the first time, citizens, businesses and governments in all regional centres of the NWT have been invited to have their say on what programs and services should be prioritized in this year’s thrifty budget.

The fiscal strategy of the 17th Assembly for budget 2012-2013 has been to limit increases in spending, pay down short-term debt and keep existing programs and services while, in the meantime, saving investments in infrastructure for the last two years of the assembly, 2014-15 and 2015-16.

“We are asking for NWT residents’ advice and support to make the tough choices to build a strong, sustainable future for our territory,” said Finance Minister Michael Miltenberger. “We need to have a frank dialogue about which programs and services are most important, how we can make our government more effective and efficient, and which strategic investments are required to develop a diversified economy that provides all communities and regions with opportunities.”

Discussions started in Inuvik on Sept. 17 and will travel through Norman Wells, Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Hay River, Behchoko and Yellowknife until late October. Feedback can be sent by letter, email or by attending public meetings.

Albertans will also have a say this fall in their province’s financial decisions. The government will conduct public sessions province-wide to hear Albertans’ priorities for Budget 2013 starting this October (schedule pending), and have also enacted a new public consultation process called “Dollars and Sense” led by Kyle Fawcett, associate minister of Finance.

Residents are being asked to help “set the boundaries for spending, saving and funding infrastructure” by answering questions about factors making up the province’s fiscal ground rules at www.dollarsandsense.alberta.ca online before Oct. 31.

Participants will be able to give feedback on when the province should save, whether a dedicated account for infrastructure should be created and what the Alberta Heritage Trust Fund should be used for, among other topics.

“It’s important to hear what all Albertans have to say on how they want their government to manage the province’s finances and savings, including experts,” Fawcett said.

Fawcett will also host a series of discussions with the financial and banking sector, businesses, academics, think tanks and other organizations in Edmonton and Calgary, Sept. 17-21.

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