Press Release - April 6, 2010
Budget was a missed opportunity says Chamber of Commerce
April 6, 2010- Halifax, NS- After reviewing the rather brief budget presented by Finance Minister Graham Steele the Halifax Chamber of Commerce came away feeling somewhat disappointed. “We were excited by all the signals over the past few weeks that this would be a bold budget, a game changer, but it seemed more like a pre-budget speech lacking the detail required to get people excited,” says Chamber president Valerie Payn.
“This was an opportunity to change the way government does business,” says Payn. “To position Nova Scotia for a positive future even in these troubled times and this budget in its brevity did not deliver.”
“The budget was trying to be fair to everyone rather than making the bold decisions that need to be made,” adds Payn. “That being said, we are hoping that the release of a more detailed plan will provide us with the clarity we need to get behind this budget.”
The Halifax Chamber has been advocating for strategic spending constraints combined with targeted investments rather than across the board, generic remedies, when it came to spending and tackling Nova Scotia’s growing debt. “Balancing restraint and growth can be a difficult task,” says Payn. “This budget feels more like an across the board decrease in spending with the determining factor being who decides to retire first.”
“The Chamber is optimistic to see a clear plan to bring the province back to balance by 2015,” says Payn. “A clear plan is what the Chamber has been advocating for and it is good to see this in place. However, the plan does seem largely reliant on a growing economy that was to be promoted by this budget and unfortunately there seems to be little that promised economic growth.”
The Chamber has long advocated for the reduction of the Small Business Tax Rate from 5 to 3 per cent helping Nova Scotia attract investment and increase competitiveness. “We wanted to see a meaningful decrease and instead we saw a half a percentage point which is symbolic at best,” says Payn.
However, there was nothing symbolic about a 2 per cent increase to the HST. “Our members have told us that they wanted to the province to look for spending cuts, before turning to tax payers for more with an HST increase,” says Payn. “While the increase to the HST came as no surprise we are disappointed to see such an increase without seeing an offset to it.”
“Health care seemed to be the only area in which the budget pronounced bold, and long awaited, changes,” says Payn. “health care costs have been growing out of control and we are encouraged to see a commitment to front line delivery and quality care – using health care professionals to their full potential and a focus on collaborative primary health care.”
“The Chamber will be reviewing the Provincial budget in detail in the coming days and is confident the leadership in the public service will provide the details and the management that will not just help our province get back to balance, but get back on the road to prosperity,” says Payn.
for more information contact:
Communications & Membership Engagement Coordinator
Halifax Chamber of Commerce