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Vancouver Board of Trade gives B.C. Budget 2013-2014 a 'B+' grade

February 19, 2013

VICTORIA, B.C. — The Vancouver Board of Trade, representing thousands of business members in the Lower Mainland, has assigned an overall grade of “B+” to the 2013 provincial budget, based on the criteria of debt reduction, spending restraint, tax competitiveness, and the government’s overall economic vision.

“This budget has returned B.C. to a balanced budget environment against a backdrop of few choices and increasing pressure to spend,” said Iain Black, President and CEO of The Vancouver Board of Trade. “Our Members have similarly difficult choices to make in economically challenging times, and we are in agreement with the prudent assumptions, and lack of election-year-type spending promises.”

“The resulting impact on tax competitiveness remains a key focus item for our Members,” added Lori Mathison, Managing Partner of Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP, and Chair of The Vancouver Board of Trade’s Government Budget and Finance Committee. “Mitigating the return to PST, in terms of both the financial and administrative costs to small business and other employers, and interprovincial competitiveness will be monitored very closely in the coming months.”

REPORT CARD RESULTS

Debt Reduction: B+
The Vancouver Board of Trade was urging the government to maintain an 18.3% debt-to-GDP ratio in 2014-15, and is pleased to see that this has been not only achieved, but also additionally decreased to 18.1% in 2015-16.

Spending Restraint: A- 
For an election year budget, there is remarkable constraint on spending, and we acknowledge the discipline required to identify $1.1 B in savings in various ministries and Crown agencies.

Tax Competitiveness: B-
Achieving a balanced budget in the current environment cannot happen without increasing revenues. While concerned about the long-term impact on investment and job creation, we acknowledge that the small business tax remains unchanged and that the overall corporate tax rate has British Columbia in a competitive position when compared to other jurisdictions. We remain concerned about the overall impact of the return of the PST on investment and job creation in British Columbia.

Economic Vision: B+
This budget, in combination with the Throne Speech, reveals government’s priorities of balancing the budget using prudent and credible assumptions, spending constraint, and targeted economic development in natural resources and the Asian marketplace. The Vancouver Board of Trade generally agrees with those principles and priorities.

Download a printable version of the report card here.

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