7 February 2017
FREDERICTON, NB – The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce continues to be concerned with New Brunswick’s growing debt after the release of the 2017-18 provincial budget.
“While the Province’s operating deficit may be declining, the bigger concern for New Brunswickers is our collective debt exceeding $14 billion,” said Paul Simmonds, chamber president. “The
government’s revised total debt for the end of 2017 was $670 million higher than their estimate and the 2018 estimate is to add another $362 million. Considering that New Brunswick pays nearly $2 million per day in interest payments, this figure is the major concern.”
Despite a provincial debt that amounts to nearly $20,000 for every person in the province, Finance Minister Cathy Rogers’ budget speech stated that the government is not introducing new revenue
measures or expenditure restraint in the 2017-18 budget. This is a concern for the province’s long-term sustainability.
“It is a surprise that the government is not attempting to further restrain spending in 2017-18 - it was broadly understood that the Strategic Program Review would require a sustained effort on restraint over multiple years and multiple mandates,” added Krista Ross, chamber CEO. “Obviously we didn’t want to see new taxes or other costs to business as our members are experiencing tax fatigue and the costs of increases in recent budgets continue to accumulate and act as a drag on the economy.”
The Fredericton chamber has recommended that the government do a comprehensive tax policy review to ensure that the province is following jurisdictional best practices.
“The government must start looking at our tax structure as an extension of economic development policy,” added Ross. “The government has recognized in this budget that businesses are being taxed beyond their capacity. Coordinating efforts to balance books and grow the economy should be the government’s top priority.”
“There are individual measures in this budget that have potential to have a positive impact such as investing in population growth measures, tourism, Fredericton’s Downtown Community Health
Centre and education,” Simmonds added. “We will be keen to see the details of these investments as they unfold.”
With more than 950 member s, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is one of Atlantic Canada’s largest chambers of commerce. A dynamic business organization, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is actively engaged in policy development that affects the competitiveness of our members and of the Canadian business environment. The Chamber’s vision is ‘Community Prosperity Through Business’.
Contact: Krista Ross, CEO – (506) 458-8006