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Canada launches spending review to tackle deficit


OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government aims to identify savings this year of C$1.7 billion ($1.68 billion) as part of its plan to reduce the budget deficit, Treasury Board President Stockwell Day said on Monday.

Day told reporters the government will conduct a strategic review this year of C$35 billion in spending across 13 government departments and agencies, with the goal of shaving 5 percent off spending in each.

The resulting savings will be funneled into general revenue, Day said, although he said some of it may be used to pay down debt as well.

"Strategic reviews are about reinvesting funds from low performing programs into priorities of Canadians," Day said in a statement.

The government will announce the results of the review in the next budget in early 2011.

Ottawa has estimated a budget deficit of C$53.8 billion, or 3.5 percent of gross domestic product, in the 2009-10 fiscal year that ended March 30.

However, it appears set to post a smaller deficit as the shortfall in the first 11 months of the year was C$40.53 billion.

Day said the spending cuts would not affect transfer payments to individuals or other levels of government.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; writing by Louise Egan; editing by Rob Wilson)

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