Chamber calls for tax study

Darrell Cole
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AMHERST - The president of the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce is urging the province to tread carefully before it considers increasing the HST by two per cent.

"It would be very unfortunate for business in this part of Nova Scotia to have another two per cent added to the HST because it's going impact their competitiveness and given people another reason to cross the border to New Brunswick," chamber president Randy Smith said.
While the province has yet to raise the HST, Finance Minister Graham Steele has been giving strong hints that could happen when he brings down his government's budget in the spring.
Steele is in the middle of a cross-province tour gathering input from Nova Scotians on how best to fight the deficit and one of the things he has been hearing is people are open to an increase in the HST.
Smith, on the other hand, is supporting a call by Cumberland South MLA Murray Scott to have government conduct a study of cross-border shopping habits and whether creating a two per cent difference in tax will drive more people to stores in New Brunswick.
"It's going to be a huge problem in our area," said Smith, who recently appeared before the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board when that organization held hearings in Amherst on gas prices between the two provinces.
"People will drive to Sackville and Moncton to save that money, especially on the big ticket items. It's already happening, this is going to make it worse."
If the tax is increased, he said, people are going to have to lower their prices to compete and if they don't get the mark-up they need to survive, many of them are simply going to go out of business.
Steele said he is very aware of the situation being faced by storeowners in the Amherst area, but he's not sure what the answer is. Still, he's willing to consider it before moving ahead.
"Any time you raise or lower tax, one of the essential elements you look at is how you stack up to neighbouring provinces and any province we're competing with," Steele said. "We'll look at the impact it's going to have."
Steele said this issue is a not a new one and is faced in other jurisdictions.
Last Thursday, convenience store opener Tony Hubert said he is closing his business because he can't compete with New Brunswick retailers, who can sell tobacco and milk at lower prices.
With gas four to seven cents a litre cheaper, Hubert said people are going to Aulac and Sackville to buy cigarettes and milk and are purchasing gasoline and other staples while they're there.
Smith said he plans to talk to the finance minister when he's in town next week.

Organizations: Area Chamber of Commerce, Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board

Geographic location: AMHERST, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia Sackville Nova Scotians Moncton

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Recent comments

  • Robert
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Well Fuzzy, I have to admit that much me agrees with you...I know it's a long shot, and I'm not going to the meeting to listen to listen their BS, but to do everything I can to make my voice heard that tax increases are counter productive to what our province needs. I also agree a Boston Tea Party style protest is required, and if a few dozen or hundred people showed up inside or outside to protest I'd see that as a great thing, either way this needs happen.

  • Exhibit
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Mad Mac, it is exactly your type of story that the minister needs to hear at that meeting.

  • Mad Mac
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    As a resident of Cumberland County I already buy all my gas and electronics in NB. I run a business also here and I buy 99% of my supplies in NS. If they raise the HST I will buy 100% of my supplies in NB including 20,000 litres of diesel fuel yearly. How much HST will the NS gov make off me then? If a lot of County business do the same what kind of shape will that leave us in. Sorry but my hand is forced to do this to stay in business.

  • peter
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    The Feds dropped the GST by 2 cents and now the province is considering to raise their portion of the HST by 2 cents. I don't think this is why the Feds dropped it in the first place, just so the province could cash in. This stinks.

  • Robert
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Finance Minister Steele will be in Amherst at the Lions Club on Monday February 22nd from 7 to 9 for a public consultation on how to balance the budget. He needs to hear that we DO NOT SUPPORT ANY TAX INCREASES.

  • Fuzzy Bear
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Sorry Robert, I know you mean well. However you can keep beating that horse but the poor bugger cannot get up. He's dead!!!
    While I do support and applaude your dedication and determination to get people to go out and protest against a tax increase I cannot help feel in my own mind it is a lost cause. Instead of going inside the club and listen to the B/S & Bafflegarb they spew, how about organizing a large poster protest outside showing we in Cumberland Co are fed up with our treatment by our elected government in Halifax. Our elected officials in Halifax simply don't care what we think up here and this will be nothing more than lip service. The HST increase will happen because provincial governments simply do not understand living within their means as so many of us Canadians have to do. They cannot and will not cut corners in their own standards of living and departmental budgets. When they run out of money they simply come back to the money tree for more. Here's my two cents before they come to take them with a tax increase!!

  • Gerard
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Mad Mac - don't you already buy all your diesel fuel in NB? Isn't that what you just said in your essay?

    Peter - Actually, yes it is. The Tories used that as a way to decentralize government.

  • know it all
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Mad Mac - you should get your facts straight - diesel is cheaper in NS by 2 cents and has been for a while - like to hear yourself talk about nothing ?