When was the finance minister going to tell us?
It is interesting that Finance Minister Cathy Bennett launched pre-budget consultations while not revealing to the people of the province what she knew about $140 million in HST overpayments that Ottawa was planning to claw back from Newfoundland and Labrador.
In fact, even after others broke the news, the minister has still not given the full impact of the clawback on this year’s bottom line.
Bennett has said she already budgeted for a clawback of $89 million this year? When was she made aware of this need? Has she amended this fiscal year’s budget or is she referring to the projected budget for next fiscal year?
Was she aware of this at the fall fiscal update?
Bennett has said she didn’t expect the actual amount to be higher than $89 million? When did she learn the actual amount, and why didn’t she disclose it at the time?
How much will the province have clawed back in the coming year? Why hasn’t Minister Bennett disclosed this critical piece of information?
What is the province doing to have that clawback deferred, drawn out, reduced or completely forgiven?
After all, the other Atlantic provinces are receiving a total of $3.8 billion in equalization in 2017 while we get nothing, even though our own revenues are sharply down just as other provinces’ revenues are.
But the Liberal government would rather double gas tax, tax insurance, levy residents to live here, increase income tax and a whole lot more, rather than ask their federal cousins to revisit an equalization formula which needs to be amended. And by the way, the 338 members of Parliament (seven Liberals from Newfoundland and Labrador) do have the ability to amend legislation for those who say it cannot be changed until 2019.
Why is the minister keeping our people in the dark about these critical details while the Liberal government claims to be consulting on The Way Forward?
The finance minister and her colleagues appear to be repeating the mistakes they made last year, when they crushed our economy with exorbitant tax increases, delaying needed action, discouraging private investment and no balanced approach to governing.
By not disclosing all the facts, the minister is again feeding the uncertainty of a credible financial plan for our province and shaking confidence in our economy and business leaders.
This is not the way to drive growth. It is a recipe we saw in Budget 2016 and has not proved successful.
The HST overpayment is a sign that our economy is suffering and underperforming — that is exactly what we predicted would follow Budget 2016 which was full of tax and fee increases and no plan to reduce expenditures.
The Ball Liberals have failed dismally to create a climate for private sector investment to drive economic and employment growth. The growth plan they promised from their “captains of industry” has never materialized.
This Liberal government is actually holding the private sector back by lurching from crisis to crisis without any strategy to lead our economy forward.
After more than a year of “consulting,” the government has still not arrived at a meaningful plan of action.
That’s not surprising when the government’s “consultations” do not involve telling people the extent of the challenges, such as a $140-million clawback from the federal government.