Gravy train keeping chugging

Premier Dennis Fentie wants to spend an additional $72.7 million this fiscal year. This spending will pile on to what was already Yukon's biggest-ever budget.

Premier Dennis Fentie wants to spend an additional $72.7 million this fiscal year.

This spending will pile on to what was already Yukon’s biggest-ever budget. Total spending this year is now expected to reach $1.076 billion.

The departments of Justice, Education and Health and Social Services will receive the bulk of the extra operations and maintenance money. Capital spending is dominated by the departments of Community Services, Highways and Public Works and the Yukon Housing Corporation.

The territory expects to post a modest surplus of $222,000.

ABCP dollars devalued, again

The territory’s $36.3 million invested in asset-backed commercial paper has been marked down again.

But the most recent devaluation of $4.6 million doesn’t reflect the true value of the investments, said Clarke LaPrairie, assistant deputy minister of Finance.

In January, the territory traded in its ABCP investments for $1.7 million in cash and a set of floating-rate notes. Most of these investments mature in 2017.

The book value of these investments is now just $25.5 million, following two devaluations. But “that has nothing to do with what we’re entitled to in 2017,” said LaPrairie.

Instead, the book value represents how much money the territory would expect to receive if it sold these notes on the market today.

These investments would not fetch a good price, as there isn’t much of a market for them. But that doesn’t concern the territory, as it has no plans to sell the notes before maturity, said LaPrairie.

Bookkeeping behind schedule

Yukon’s consolidated financial statements will be several months late in being audited, due to a hold up with the Yukon Housing Corporation’s books.

The Crown corporation was late closing its books for 2008-09 because of a recent switch to a different accounting method, said Clarke LaPrairie, assistant deputy minister of Finance.

This proved a big challenge for the corporation’s new account unit, which had only started up in April. Before that, its books were handled by the Department of Community Services.

The housing corporation had, until this year, used an accounting system favoured by many private businesses. It switched to a system preferred by government bodies this year, based on the recommendations of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, said LaPrairie.

Finance officials chipped in with the work. Still, “it’s been a tremendous amount of work for them,” he said.

The territory’s books were sent to Canada’s auditor general on September 23, several months after the auditor’s staff visited the Yukon over the summer.

LaPrairie expects the audited financial statements to be ready by mid-December.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.