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NDP eyed raising PST for years: Pallister

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The NDP pondered raising the provincial sales tax five years before they actually raised it last July, the opposition Progressive Conservatives said today.

The revelation came today during an exchange between Opposition Leader Brian Pallister and Premier Greg Selinger in a budget estimates meeting Friday morning.

Pallister said documents obtained by the Tories through freedom of information requests shows government officials looked at the economic viability of raising the PST in 2008-2009, in 2009-2010 and in 2010-2011 before the Oct. 4, 2011 general election.

Pallister said the documents show the government had long been interested in increasing the PST and was planning to do it once the 2011 election was over.

During the 2011 campaign, Selinger said it was "total nonsense" the NDP would raise the PST.

Selinger said today the decision to raise the PST was made after the 2011 election when it became known that year’s flooding would sap the provincial treasury. That total bill 2011 flood has been pegged at more than $1 billion.

He also said it’s routine that finance officials would look at various options of improving the province’s bottom line, but without a recommendation being made to cabinet to implement them.

The PST was raised one point to eight per cent last year.

The Tories are fighting the hike in court because they claim it was made without holding a referendum as outlined in balanced budget legislation.

The first court date on the Tories' lawsuit is April 25.

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