Liberals lagging on return to PST

Three years of Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) chaos has been the result of the BC Liberals’ decision to deceive voters prior to the last election, and now the government is fumbling the return to Provincial Sales Tax (PST), hurting local businesses and resort municipalities in the process, says Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.

Macdonald joined his caucus colleagues Monday in questioning the length of time it is taking the government to return to the tax system chosen by the majority of British Columbians, the PST. Three months after the referendum vote against the HST, the BC Liberals are still unable to provide a clear timeline for the changeover nor any clarity on how the changeover will occur.

In a statement issued on Tuesday Macdonald also raised the concerns of resort municipalities who lost their funding stream when the HST was so hastily implemented.

“One more example of HST chaos is with resort municipality agreements which are in place with 12 local governments, including 5 in Columbia River – Revelstoke,” Macdonald said in a question during Question Period on Monday. “The bungled implementation of the HST inadvertently wiped out the funding mechanism for these agreements.”

The government moved to a grant system as a stopgap measure, but this system removes the certainty of long-term funding that is necessary for resort municipalities to make the most of these dollars.

“As the government very slowly reinstates the PST, resort communities, who signed a long-term agreement with the province for committed funding, need an assurance that we will also be returning the pre-existing resort municipality funding mechanism,” Macdonald said.

“Unfortunately, the Minister of Finance Kevin Falcon chose to not even listen to the question that has such serious impacts on rural resort communities, choosing instead to opine about historical housing starts.”

But that wasn’t the only serious misstep made by the minister.  Earlier in Question Period, Minister Falcon referred to the PST, a tax he supported before the election and the tax the majority of British Columbians prefer, as a “stupid’ tax.”

“The people of BC were clear that they rejected the BC Liberals’ HST, but instead of taking the direction of the electorate, Minister Falcon thinks he can get away with basically calling the electorate names,” Macdonald said.  “It was a pretty sad showing for the BC Liberals in the Legislature today.”