Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

PST hike decried by business group

Disdain for increase gets unanimous vote

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The biggest business group in Manitoba raised its voice Sunday to join the chorus of opposition over the Selinger government's proposed one percentage hike to the provincial sales tax.

In an unanimous resolution, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce used its annual general meeting this weekend to call on the provincial government to play fair with the tax.

"Chambers across the province are clearly concerned with not only the government's decision to increase the PST, but also the manner in which they are trying to accomplish it," said Chuck Davidson, Manitoba Chambers of Commerce president and CEO.

The 10,000-member organization said the province should respect the current balanced-budget legislation and ensure a referendum occurs before increasing the PST to eight per cent.

Besides that, municipalities and businesses say it looks like the province has no plan what to do with the money once it starts rolling in after the tax hike.

"Chambers are also concerned there is no clear way to address the municipal infrastructure deficit and makes Manitoba's uncompetitive tax framework even more unattractive," Davidson said.

"There's a better way to go about doing this," Davidson said, adding consultation was the reason for the referendum law in the first place and their position is a stand for democracy.

"We understand the challenges we face, but there's not a clear plan about where the money is going and it's time to have a discussion in the province about infrastructure challenges and how we're going to pay for them."

Across the province, residents have rallied against increasing the sales tax to eight per cent on July 1 and most of the anger is directed at the way the NDP handled the hike.

The government introduced legislation to bypass a public referendum on the tax hike as required under current law.

The tax hike dominated debate during the spring sitting of the legislature. It was announced in the April 16 budget.

A large rally was held Thursday night in front of the legislature to oppose the tax increase.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 6, 2013 A10

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