Canada government panel to try to squeeze new savings
* Minister says job was not finished with March budget
* Trying to find more government-wide savings
* Clement also announces red-tape reduction action plan
By Randall Palmer
OTTAWA, Oct 1 (Reuters) - The Canadian government has decided it can squeeze more cost savings from its operations despite billions of dollars of already announced spending cuts, the cabinet minister in charge, Treasury Board President Tony Clement, told Reuters on Monday.
He said that is why Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced last month the creation of a new committee on government administration that Clement will chair.
"My committee started this initiative when we were doing our budgeting (for the March budget), but both I and the prime minister recognized that our job was not done," Clement said.
He was referring to the strategic and operating review committee, which helped earmark C$5.2 billion ($5.3 billion) of planned cuts in annual spending in the March federal budget, or about 6.9 percent of direct program spending.
Some of that is designed to come from a cut of 19,200 jobs from the federal work force, and some by operating more efficiently. The new panel will try to find further savings on a government-wide basis.
"A lot of what the government does in its back office or delivering direct front-line services, a lot of these activities haven't changed very much over the last couple of decades," Clement said.
He was not able to put a dollar figure on the amount he expects to save through the new panel or whether any more jobs would be cut.
"At the end of the day, we're going to do what is best for the taxpayer, and they expect us to continue to do this on an ongoing basis," he said.
Clement was speaking as he unveiled an action plan to reduce red tape for businesses. It includes 90 separate reforms, for example, introducing a single window for regulatory approvals by the Canada Border Service Agency for moving goods.
"It'll save small businesses in particular a lot of time and money," Clement said.
The red-tape initiatives will be implemented over the next year, and will include a requirement for departments to publish a 24-month rolling plan to tell businesses how they intend to regulate and to give them a chance to react and prepare.
(Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Peter Galloway)
Keywords: CANADA POLITICS/CLEMENT