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PST hike bad for small businesses: Pallister

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Brian Pallister used a small clothing store in Whyte Ridge this morning to draw attention to the damage an increase to the PST may cause to small businesses and their customers.

Pallister's Progressive Conservatives have used all the tactical measures they can muster to slow, if not stall, the NDP's legislative agenda this spring in response to the government's plan to hike the provincial sales tax to eight per cent on July 1. It means the government may not be able to pass a bill in the House that would eliminate the need for a referendum on the tax increase by the time the tax hike takes effect.

This morning, Pallister held a news conference at Peppertree Fashions on Scurfield Boulevard.

Owner Connie Hall said a PST increase can only harm business in what is already an ultra-competitive market.

"It's a tough market out there. Four Winnipeg fashion retailers have already gone out of business over the last year. Any addition to the PST will only drive more business south of the border," said Hall, whose store caters to women age 40 and older.

Tammy Jensen, part-owner of an area greenhouse, said she is worried that a late spring plus a PST hike will harm sales and force her to employ fewer people.

Her McGillvray Boulevard business is looking at covering the PST on sales in July to counter the negative effects of the tax hike.

Pallister said the PST increase could act as a tipping point for some small businesses. Not only will it make their goods more expensive, but the same businesses will have to pay the higher tax on the products they buy, increasing their costs.

He said it's not too late for the government to do the right thing and drop the tax hike.

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