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Release: Budget 2015 Reflects Sound Fiscal Management and the Benefits of a Diverse Economy
February 17, 2015 (Victoria, BC) – The Business Council of British Columbia applauds today’s provincial budget, which features another three years of operating surpluses and a plan to reduce the province’s net debt measured relative to the size of the economy (GDP). Budget 2015 is built around prudent economic and revenue growth projections and includes a handful of modest, but well-targeted, spending increases.
“We support the government’s budget plan and acknowledge its steady stewardship of the province’s finances,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council. “The government is focusing most of the proposed spending increases on health care and education while containing expenditure growth in most other areas.”
“We believe, however, that overtime it will be necessary to refocus efforts on strengthening BC’s competitive position through increased investments in infrastructure, further streamlining of regulatory processes, and the refinement of current tax policies to spur business investment and innovation,” added D’Avignon.
The Business Council agrees with the province’s assessment that the BC economy is on a stable growth trajectory. In fact, the Council expects economic growth this year to be somewhat stronger than the 2.3% assumed in the budget. Thanks to the boost from the rebounding US economy and the weaker Canadian dollar, BC is likely to be near the top of the provincial growth rankings in 2015.
As the improving economy provides greater fiscal flexibility, the Business Council will look to the government to direct additional funding to support increased capacity building within First Nations and enable the province to accelerate economic development and reconciliation with aboriginal communities. The Business Council also urges the federal government to become a more active partner in these efforts.
“A sound fiscal framework is a foundation to encourage long term economic growth and sustainable public services,” noted Jock Finlayson, Executive Vice President of the Business Council of British Columbia. “In this regard, British Columbia has been more successful than other provinces in managing its costs. Balancing the province’s operating account, however, needs to be augmented by a stepped up commitment to ensure that BC will have the educated and skilled workforce needed to drive business growth and higher wages in an increasingly competitive, knowledge-driven global economy.”
“We commend the government’s work to establish the policy environment needed to support the emergence of an LNG industry – an unprecedented economic opportunity for the province,” said D’Avignon. “In light of the current turmoil in global energy markets, we believe it is prudent that the government has not built any LNG-related revenue into today’s budget, even though we remain optimistic that BC will attract one or more LNG projects in the next 24 months.”
“As British Columbia becomes increasingly integrated into the global marketplace, it is important the government looks at ways to modify its taxation policies and regulatory systems in order to stimulate local businesses to grow and further strengthen export industry clusters in the natural resources, manufacturing, advanced technology, tourism, and tradable services sectors,” said Finlayson.
Visit www.BCBC.com in the coming days for the Business Council’s full analysis of Budget 2015.
The Business Council of British Columbia, now in its 49th year as the premier business organization in British Columbia, is a non-partisan association made up of 260 leading companies, post-secondary institutions and organizations from across BC’s diverse economy, which collectively support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the province. The Council provides timely and exceptional public-policy research and advice on issues to enhance BC’s competiveness and prosperity.
Cheryl Maitland Muir
Business Council of British Columbia