Budget 2013 Fails To Foster Climate Of Stability

By February 19, 2013Abbotsford News

John van Dongen, MLA (Abbotsford South) strongly agrees with the objective of a balanced budget but does not believe it is achievable in this fiscal year based on the measures presented today by the Minister of Finance. Van Dongen offered the following comments on the pre-Election 2013 Budget:

[STABILITY] “The Christy Clark government is continuing to fail to provide an attractive business climate that will encourage investment to flourish in the province. Many decisions that were made in this budget could be up for alteration by any government following the upcoming election. Businesses and individuals alike will face increased taxes and other fees and an uncertain climate. This will impact business investment and jobs.”

“The government is stating their 2013/2014 budget is balanced, but it is solely on the basis of $775 million in gains realized from one-time asset sales. $300 million of this is from the sale of the Little Mountain property, and $475 million is from other surplus asset sales.”

[PROPERTY SALES] “The timing and realization of sales of such assets is highly variable. With the Little Mountain property, the government deferred the $300 million gain from the previous budget to this year to create the optics of a balanced budget. In addition, even the government’s own estimates of the property market indicate that they would be disposing of such assets in a declining market.”

[INCREASED TAXES] “I am disappointed that the government’s solution to bring investment and jobs to the province involves raising personal and corporate taxes on those that will be bringing such jobs to the province. How can the government attract such investment when would-be job creators are facing increased taxes and a higher-cost environment?”

[HEALTH SPENDING] “Health spending continues to be the largest dollar increase in the budget and while I am pleased to see that there is a focus on finding cost efficiencies. However, I wonder whether the projected spending increases of 2.5% will be realized by the government in light of our aging population and increased demand on our health services. Specifically, I am concerned that the history of funding decisions by government does not adequately fund the Fraser Health Authority, considering Abbotsford’s and the region’s high population growth.”

[AGRICULTURE] “While I am pleased the government acknowledges the needs of the greenhouse grower industry and their rising costs due to the punitive carbon tax, I firmly believe the simplest solution is to scrap the carbon tax. It makes no sense to collect a tax, and then to go through another process to refund the tax that was collected. All of agriculture whether it blueberries farms, or greenhouse growers or dairy or poultry farms, are punished with the carbon tax. This band-aid solution presented by the government is not credible. All industry and commerce in British Columbia is being unfairly punished by the carbon tax relative to all of their North American and off-shore competition that do not have a carbon tax. Carbon tax is bad for business and consumers. I firmly believe the simple solution is to scrap the Carbon Tax and the Pacific Carbon Trust.”
“I am pleased to see the extension of the BC Fruit and Veggie Program that I have actively represented and supported since its inception.”

[TIMING OF SOCIAL PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATIONS] “There are other programs which the government proposed, such as the BC Training and Education Savings Program and the BC Early Childhood Tax Benefit, but we do not know whether these programs will exist after the election. This again adds to the climate of instability in what is ultimately an election budget document that should be taken in that context. I will caution all families with young children that this is purely an attempt to buy votes with far-off promises that may not be kept by a future government.”

[CONCLUSION] “To conclude, Budget 2013 fails to create the climate of stability that is required for the province to flourish. Tax increases, MSP increases, and questionable one-time asset sales undermine the government’s claim of a balanced election budget. This further underscores the need to move the fixed election date to the Fall to remove the politicizing of election year budgets. To date, the government has refused to make this progressive change in this session.”

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