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Pallister vows PC government would roll back PST hike

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Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister unveiled a series of alternatives this morning that he says would allow Manitobans to avoid a one-percentage-point increase in the PST.

At a news conference at the Legislative Building, Pallister said a PC government would find $120 million in savings (one per cent) from government departments, cut senior civil service positions and institute a "hiring chill" in the civil service.

He would also cut government advertising spending by $11 million and reduce communications staff, saving another $11 million.

And he would improve government tendering and procurement procedures, saving $35 million.

Altogether, he outlined nine specific cuts with savings of $286.8 million, more than offsetting the extra $277 million the NDP government plans to bring in by raising the provincial sales tax to eight per cent from seven per cent on July 1.

Pallister also pledged, if elected, to roll back the government’s proposed sales tax hike.

He said in 2011-2012, 545 workers left the civil service through retirement, accounting for about 3.5 per cent of the workforce. Even more civil servants resigned.

If only retiring employees were not rehired — pending a complete government spending review that he would initiate — the government could save $78 million a year. He added, under questioning, that he would still replace some retiring civil servants in critical areas.

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