Premier Brad Wall says he hasn’t decided whether his administration will begin directing resources to a new sovereign wealth fund before the provincial government has paid off its sizable debt.
“You’re going to see legislation from this government very soon to establish that futures fund,” Wall told reporters at the legislature on Thursday.
“The debate, though … is do we start saving money and paying off the debt at the same time?”
Despite not setting aside funds for the program in the 2014-15 provincial budget on Wednesday, Wall maintains that the creation of the proposed Saskatchewan Futures Fund remains a high priority for the government.
Last year, former University of Saskatchewan president Peter MacKinnon called on the government to set aside a portion of its surplus non-renewable resource revenue for a long-term savings plan.
He recommended that the government cap the share of resource revenue directed to its budget at 26 per cent and set aside any surplus for the futures fund.
NDP Leader Cam Broten accused the government of waffling, noting that Wall committed to establishing the fund last year.
“They should at least have a plan in place … for when that 26 per cent threshold is met,” Broten said.
The premier, though, said he has concerns about setting up the fund without completely paying off the debt.
“There’s an average interest rate on this credit card debt of five per cent, and we’re only paying the interest,” Wall said.
“We’ve paid 44 per cent of (the debt) off, but there’s still debt there.”
Finance Minister Ken Krawetz said on Wednesday that the money for the fund isn’t available this year.