UPDATE 1-Canada 2019-2020 budget deficit almost doubles, preliminary data show

(Adds details of release)

OTTAWA, May 29 (Reuters) – Canada’s budget deficit in the 2019-20 fiscal year almost doubled to C$21.77 billion ($15.76 billion) compared to C$11.81 billion the previous year, preliminary data from the federal finance ministry showed on Friday.

The figures do not include year-end accrual adjustments because of reporting extensions linked to the coronavirus outbreak, the ministry said. The data “are not the final results for the fiscal year as a whole”, it added.

Canada has ramped up spending to fight the coronavirus pandemic and the independent parliamentary budget officer says the 2020-21 deficit could exceed C$250 billion.

Compared to the previous fiscal year revenues rose by 1.8%, in part due to increases in personal income tax receipts, while program expenses rose by 4.7% on higher transfers to individuals and other levels of government.

The Liberal government has boosted child allowances and other social payments.

The budget deficit for March 2020 was C$14.79 billion, compared to C$14.90 billion in March 2019.

Revenues fell by 7.2%, reflecting decreases in tax revenues. Ottawa has deferred the payment of some taxes to help people cope with the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

Program expenses dropped by 6.6%.

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