by Ian Campbell Posted Aug 4, 2015 3:41 pm MDT Finance Minister Joe Ceci seeks input from Calgary business community on budget AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Alberta’s Finance Minister is calling a roundtable he had earlier with Calgary’s business community as productive.Joe Ceci, who is currently trying to craft the NDP provincial government’s first-ever budget, listened as members of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce provided their input.“The meeting was a wonderful opportunity for me and my staff to gain significant input from small business, medium-sized business around the importance of government and business working lock-step with each other,” Ceci said.“Certainly that’s been our plan as a government, to be clear about the changes we believe need to happen and to bring those forward in a timed and measured way so everybody understands what those are and how they adjust and adapt to them.”Ceci said he got a number of cues from people and appreciated the one of the meeting, calling it productive, cordial and constructive.“Global oil prices are obviously a major concern not only for me and the work I’m doing, but Albertans in general. We have a significant focus on that every day. The forecasts going forward are changing and when I get back to Edmonton to sit down with my Deputy Minister and finance officials we’ll be looking at new forecasts to bring forward.”The Finance Minister says they are still looking at roughly a $5-Billion dollar deficit in the fall.“The direction to all ministers was to ensure that they’re being as efficient and effective with the budget monies they have, with the interim supply monies they have been allotted. To ensure we meet our targets, they will have to constrain spending; we haven’t set absolute targets yet for departments and ministers. We know there is a challenge we have to address.”“Ministers have to come to me with their budgets and that will be a discussion (additional savings) we have when they sit down with me,” Ceci explained.“My perspective is long-term for Alberta, we have a report coming to us from Mr. Dodge and that will talk about the capital side and the potential investments that will stimulate our economy long-term.”Politicians return to Edmonton on October 26th, one week after the election.Calgary Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Adam Legge told reporters participants talked about a number of issues including tax credits, minimum wage, access to labour, markets and capital overall.Legge believes there were lots of interesting perspectives shared that the Minister will be able to take back, to be a part of the budget.“It was about making sure that we protect the quality of life here in Alberta, business did want to communicate to the Minister in these consultations is that the tax measures that have happened should be done in a phased approach. They have to be minding the ship, no one is suggesting any massive cuts need to be made but to live within our means, just as business does,” he said.“I think the challenge is this is a very short budget window; the reality is we don’t expect any of these major significant efficiencies to be found over the next few months. The reality is I think this is going to be something we encourage the government to do over the course of its mandate.”Anyone who didn’t get a chance to weigh in can still have their say but participating online at or participate in a telephone town hall which will be taking place in September.

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