It's all about confidence, and the markets have confidence in B.C.
This was the key message in Kevin Falcon's speech to the Richmond Chamber of Commerce last Friday morning.
The Minister of Finance was making the rounds to various business and trade groups in the province, following the release of his annual budget.
"Never underestimate confidence," he said.
With a single keystroke, millions of dollars can be put into an economy and millions of dollars can be taken out, he added.
Although seniors groups, environmentalists and others are not happy with what he calls a "prudent" budget, the fact that markets responded positively is good enough for him.
Through graphs and charts, Falcon showed how, since the Liberals have been in power, spending has been held down and taxes have been reduced.
Indeed, corporate taxes have been reduced from 16 per cent to 10 per cent, giving B.C. the lowest corporate taxes of all G7 countries.
Meanwhile, taxes to small business has been reduced from 4.5 percent to 2.5 per cent.
On the spending side, Falcon's buzz phrase is "bending down the curve."
This has kept the economy relatively strong and unemployment at six per cent, according to Falcon.
Numbers the minister didn't mention are in regard to the growing disparity of wealth in B.C.
According to the government's own number crunching agency, BC Stats, B.C. has the largest gap in the country between the top and bottom 20 per cent of income earners.
Anti-poverty groups argue this budget further increases the divide. For example, the budget includes a one-year HST exemption for people buying second homes or recreational property outside the Metro Vancouver and Capital regional districts.
Such a tax break, at a time when many working people are finding it hard to afford rent, points to the Liberal government's continuation of policies that increase economic disparity, according to the Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Also, a bonus for firsttime home buyers of new homes benefits those of a certain class who are in a position to make their first home purchase a new home. Falcon, however, notes the move will stimulate job growth in the construction industry.
Also, in the name of job creation, Falcon scrapped the two cents per litre tax on jet fuel, saying this will be a boon for the airport. He credited Richmond Centre MLA Rob Howard for the initiative.
Howard has been a champion of the Gateway project, attracting investment from Asia, and views the airport as an integral part of that.
While more jobs at the airport may help the local economy, cheaper jet fuel is not viewed as a boon for the environment, according to environmentalists, while unions question how the government can give the airline industry what amounts to a $12 million tax break, while claiming there is no cash to negotiate union contracts.
© Copyright 2013