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Feds turning corner in deficit fight, posts $2.16 billion surplus in January

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Ottawa has posted its second consecutive monthly surplus in January, this time worth a whopping $2.16 billion.

The January windfall follows a $1.15-billion surplus recorded the previous month and suggests the Harper government is turning the corner in its battle to reverse eight consecutive years of deficits.

For the first 10 months of the 2013-14 fiscal year, Ottawa's deficit stood at $10.5 billion compared to $13.9 billion for the same period last year.

The Finance Department's monthly accounting is normally subject to some wild fluctuations, but the December and January results is the first time since the recession that Ottawa has reported large consecutive surpluses.

Last January, the government also reported a surplus, but it was only worth $480 million.

The new numbers put Ottawa ahead of pace in meeting the $16.6 billion deficit for the fiscal year as a whole that former finance minister Jim Flaherty had projected in the February budget.

And it lends credence to the perception that the government may be in position to declare victory on the deficit even before next spring's budget, which will be the last prior to the federal election.

For the month, the department said revenues increased 5.1 per cent, or $1.2 billion, while program expenses fell by about $556 million.

For the fiscal year to date, revenues are up 4.2 per cent, or $8.7 billion, while expenses are up 2.9 per cent, or $5.6 billion.