Nova Scotia

Dexter to cut HST back to 13% by 2015

Nova Scotia will cut its HST back to 13 per cent over the next three years.

Baillie dismisses 'cynical electioneering'

Nova Scotia is promising to cut its HST back to 13 per cent over the next three years.

Premier Darrell Dexter said Monday night that the province's surplus will be significant enough in 2014 to lower the harmonized sales tax by one percentage point and another percentage point in the following year.

That will put the HST back at 13 per cent in 2015. The NDP government will introduce legislation this spring to make the HST reductions law.

"Nova Scotians shared the challenge of getting our province back to balance, and they will also share the direct and indirect benefits of a balanced budget," Dexter said in the foyer of the legislature, after opposition members adjourned debate for the day.

"This government is reducing the HST when the province can afford to take that step without creating a deficit and adding unnecessary debt."

In August 2009, an independent financial review showed the province was headed for a $1.4-billion deficit.

Finance Minister Graham Steele responded by increasing the HST to 15 per cent.

Dexter said the reduction proved the NDP financial plan was working.

The government will introduce its budget for the next year Tuesday.

'Cynical electioneering'

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said the promise came with a major qualification.

"By telling Nova Scotians to wait until 2014-2015, the premier has put an asterisk on his promise, which says you have to re-elect him first," says Baillie.

"Nova Scotians have heard similar pre-election tax promises by Mr. Dexter before, and are getting tired of the obvious manipulation."

He called the HST plan "cynical electioneering."