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Public, private sectors to up spending here

Manitoba companies and governments aren't letting the global economic uncertainty put a crimp in their capital spending plans this year, a new survey indicates.

Statistics Canada's annual survey of private and public investment intentions shows spending on construction projects and machinery and equipment is expected to grow at one of the fastest paces in the country this year -- a projected 8.5 per cent to $13.4 billion from $13.3 billion in 2012.

That's nearly four times the projected national average gain of 1.7 per cent. And among the provinces, it's expected to be second only to Newfoundland and Labrador's 9.7 per cent.

"I was a bit surprised when I saw the numbers," Wilf Falk, the province's chief statistician, said Wednesday. "That's is a bit stronger than I thought it would be."

Statistics Canada said public-sector investment in Manitoba is expected to climb by 12.9 per cent to a projected $4.6 billion from $4.1 billion in 2012. That's more than double the projected national average increase of five per cent.

And private-sector spending is expected to jump by 6.3 per cent to $8.8 billion from $8.2 billion. That's more than six times the projected national average increase of 0.8 per cent.

Falk said the strong private-sector spending is likely a by-product of a healthy provincial economy, which is expected to grow by more than two per cent in 2013.

And a projected 38 per cent jump in spending by the utilities sector is the driving force behind the jump in public-sector spending, Falk said: "I'm assuming a lot of that is Hydro development in the north."

The national numbers suggest corporations are taking a wait-and-see approach to capital investments, a position that could dampen modest expectations for economic growth in 2013.

The projected 1.7 per cent rise in overall spending, to $398.2 billion, is the smallest non-recession increase since 1995. And it's down from last year's 7.2 per cent.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

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