Restoring Peter Lougheed’s Original Vision

Alberta, Publications, Role of Government, Taxation

This shower of riches [the Alaska Permanent Fund] sent Alaska into a frenzy of public spending, particularly on capital projects. . . By 1976, the state had spent most of the initial lease money, and Alaskans were aghast they had frittered away so much in so short a time. Fears of uncontrolled legislative spending had been confirmed, and Alaskans sought ways to protect their natural resource revenues for future generations.
– Jonathan Anderson. The Alaska Permanent Fund: Politics and Trust

Public Budgeting & Finance / Summer 2002: 68 Oil wealth in many other countries has been used to finance colossal fortunes for the few, or bread and circuses for the many. Norway has avoided both traps. The revenue from the Petroleum Fund could help to maintain Norwegian living standards long after the oil reserves are exhausted. In addition, macroeconomic and structural policies have been used to ensure that the non-oil economy, which accounts for most of the
GDP and virtually all employment, remains as viable and prosperous as possible, including in the traded sectors. But pressures to spend more of the capital of the Fund straight away are strong.
– The OECD’s economic survey of Norway, 2005

Are we prepared as a province to put aside substantial sums of current revenues from the sale of non-replaceable crude oil production for the sake of our children and for our grandchildren and not make it available for current revenue needs; to use it for that day . . . when some of the wells
may have gone dry?
– Premier Peter Lougheed, in Alberta’s legislature, 1976

Executive Summary

Few jurisdictions around the world have the good fortune to possess natural resource wealth and only a fraction manages windfall revenue with prudence. This study casts a glance at Alberta’s spending patterns, present practice and choices for the future. It also compares the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF) with Alberta’s Heritage Savings Trust Fund (AHST) to learn from Alaska in order to avoid errors and to ensure that future generations of Albertans also enjoy the Alberta Advantage. The challenge for Alberta is to learn from its Heritage Fund history as well as from the examples of other arguably more successful jurisdictions.

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