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The Progressive Economics Forum

1% Potash Royalties: Typo or Foreshadowing?

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Energy and Resources has released its 2011-12 Annual Report. The potash table (page 36) incredibly shows “Royalty/Tax” revenue of only $62.5 million in 2010-11 and $38.4 million in 2011-12.

These figures amount to just 1.2% and 0.6% respectively of the value of potash sales. I have long argued that Saskatchewan’s potash royalties are too low, but they are not that low!

It seems that the first digit is missing from both numbers. The revenue table (page 31) shows 2011-12 potash revenues of $438.4 million. And the 2010-11 figure was $262.5 million.

The omission of $400 million and $200 million of annual potash revenue is ironic in a report that emphasizes undercutting other jurisdictions rather than collecting the best possible return for the people of Saskatchewan. The word “competitiveness” appears eight times in the report.

I guess this typo makes our province’s potash royalties and taxes look ultra-competitive. We can only hope that it’s just a typo and not a subliminal message from Minister Bill Boyd about future resource policy!

UPDATE (August 18): From today’s Saskatoon StarPhoenix (page A8):

Regina economist Erin Weir, expected to run for the leadership of the Sask. NDP, found a typo this week in the Energy and Resources Ministry annual report.

In a message to media, he noted a table showed potash revenue of $62.5 million in 2010-11 and $38.4 million in 2011-12.

“I have long argued that Saskatchewan’s potash royalties are too low, but they are not that low!” Weir wrote.

“It seems that the first digit is missing from both numbers.”

The correct numbers, which were approved by government staff, are $262.5 million in 2010-11 and $438.4 million in 2011-12, but the first digits were dropped by the publisher or designer, said a spokesperson, noting the online version has been fixed.

Weir noted the word “competitiveness” appears eight times in the report.

“I guess this typo makes our province’s potash royalties and taxes look ultracompetitive,” he continued.

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