Reaction to Wednesday’s Saskatchewan Budget by the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce was generally positive, but a release from the organization notes that there are some shortfalls in addressing areas of key importance to its members.
A recent survey of Chambers and their members from across the province, including those in the Humboldt area, included the following:
Overall fiscal responsibility
Municipal/rural Infrastructure investments including highways
Health care spending increase
Education spending increase
Corporation Tax reductions
The SCC said it was very pleased to note there are no new taxes or tax increases. However, it contends the budget misses the mark in two key areas. They say the 2023/24 Provincial Budget does not address PST and Corporate Tax reform. Saskatchewan is one of only three provinces still taxing most businesses on their inputs through the application of the PST. The SCC maintains this has a detrimental effect on competitiveness, investment, and growth. Another of its concerns is the Government's decision not to continue the temporary freeze of the Small Business Tax rate at 0% will further increase the cost of doing business here.
“Business is the driver of Saskatchewan’s strengthening fiscal position,” said Prabha Ramaswamy, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce. “It is critical to address PST and Corporate Tax reform to enhance competitiveness.”
The SCC stated it approved the Government’s decision to use a $1 billion surplus to pay down operating debt. It applauded what it called the biggest investment in infrastructure ever at $3.7 billion - $543.4 million over last year, which represents a 17% increase. The move, it says, supports job creation and opportunities in the province. The $5 million investment in newcomer settlement and immigration is another important step in solving the province’s labour crisis.
It says another positive is the initiative to increase the Government’s investment in health care and education which will help improve the quality of lives for our residents. It contends this will also aid in the attraction of much-needed skilled labour.
The SCC concludes that the Saskatchewan business community wants growth that works for everyone, including private businesses. It states that it is committed to working with the government to develop a competitive tax regime that includes incentives, and reduces regulatory burden.