B.C. budget doesn’t offset hit of HST loss: business groups

While welcoming a balanced budget, B.C. business groups are warning that the just-released budget won’t provide a needed boost to B.C.’s competitiveness to offset the ...

While welcoming a balanced budget, B.C. business groups are warning that the just-released budget won’t provide a needed boost to B.C.’s competitiveness to offset the return to PST April 1.

Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president and chief policy officer for the Business Council of British Columbia acknowledged that the budget displays fiscal discipline in managing expenditures. But he said the budget fails to boost B.C.’s competitive position at a critical juncture.

“B.C. is losing ground from a competitive point of view because of the high Canadian dollar, we’re also losing ground because we’re about to switch back to the PST – that’s going to represent a very substantial tax increase on business in B.C.,” he said.

He said the just-released budget adds to those taxes.

“Although the government likes to say we’re competitive, in fact we’re losing ground,” he said. “And unfortunately the budget today doesn’t really address that challenge – it’s more focused on the fiscal side of economic policy.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has given the budget a “B” rating.

“The provincial government today unveiled a budget that provides good news overall for BC’s small and independent businesses, while raising concerns about economic competitiveness over the long term,” the CFIB said in a statement.

While the CFIB welcomed some aspects of the budget, including measures to create pooled registered pension plans, it said it is disappointed by the corporate income tax to 11% “on the heels of the return to PST.”

jwagler@biv.com

@jennywagler

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