Crushing burden stifles economic growth

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The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has been dedicated to its cause for some time. Businesses and the public get it, but the mammoth task is to get governments to heed the message.

Kevin Lacey, Atlantic director of the federation, visited the county Thursday and spoke at a luncheon held by the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce. He described how Nova Scotia’s taxes – mounting steadily over the years to be the highest in the country – are a stifling factor, for consumers, existing business and any contemplating start-up.

The primarily business crowd at such an event will surely relate. The Chamber of Commerce here and elsewhere consistently cites crushing taxes and red tape as top factors suffocating economic growth.

But we need to realize we’re at a do-or-die crossroads if this province is to move the economy forward. Measures needed have been idle talk for too long.

The provincial Liberals campaigned about the need to stop handing money out to businesses, although in reality these promises are difficult. They’ve tweaked the way its done, most recently creating the Invest Nova Scotia Board and ending the Nova Scotia Jobs Fund, which was controlled by Cabinet.

On the question of public funds being “invested” in private business, the argument goes that every region offers incentives in some way, making it virtually impossible to eliminate handouts if your province hopes to compete.

Rather than just griping about the burden, the federation is suggesting a tax reduction plan Lacey describes as: $1 of tax relief for every $2 of new government revenue, legislated over a period of three years.

As well, when pushed, government will always find waste. How about making the hunt for waste standard procedure, rather than a last-ditch quest when squeezed into a corner?

Municipalities could do a lot too. These businesses pay whopping municipal taxes along with the share to other levels. Lower rates are the best thing a municipality can do to attract new ventures.

Organizations: Pictou County Chamber of Commerce, Invest Nova Scotia Board, Nova Scotia Jobs Fund

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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