Chamber doubts P.E.I. budget can be balanced next year
The Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce does not believe the provincial government can achieve its goal of balancing the budget in 2015-16.
In a news release following Tuesday's budget for 2014-15, chamber president Keith O'Neill said the province lacks the required initiatives in both expenditure reduction and revenue generation to reach its goal.
“We are concerned about the province’s ability to reach a break-even budget by 2015-2016,” said O’Neill.
“In order to address the province’s fiscal position, a clear agenda for economic growth is required which includes job creation, increased business opportunities and immigration.”
The chamber has struck a task force to specifically address some of the concerns it has regarding economic development strategy, in particular looking at embracing entrepreneurship, improving access to capital and attracting skilled immigrants.
In a December poll of members, the chamber found the chief concern was the future of the Island economy, followed by the current state of the economy and then the provincial government deficit.
Tax relief needed, says CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business was pleased there were no tax or fee increases in the budget this year, and wants Finance Minister Wes Sheridan to go further next year and provide tax relief.
Provincial director Erin McGrath Gaudet points out the government has not indexed personal income tax brackets to inflation for six years, and it is time to start doing that again.
"[It] is kind of a loophole the government gets to take advantage of to get more money from personal income tax payers," said McGrath Gaudet.
"We're hoping to see things like that addressed in the next year as we get closer to that balanced budget."
Sheridan has said indexing of tax brackets likely won't be possible until 2016 at the earliest. Bracket creep on personal income taxes means more than $3 million extra in revenue a year for the government.