When Finance Minister Graham Steele comes to Amherst early next week he's likely to hear a common theme from business people and residents regarding plans to raise the HST by two per cent.
Since the finance minister floated the trial balloon a couple of weeks ago during his cross-province tour, people in Amherst and Cumberland County have been up in arms saying the plan will only make this area less competitive when it comes to curbing the number of people crossing the border to do their shopping in Moncton.
Cross-border shopping is not a new issue and it's one for which there is no easy solution. People in communities on both sides of the border cross the provincial boundary on a daily basis to shop in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. While retailers here complain about the number of Nova Scotians crossing to Aulac and Sackville, there are more than a few from southeastern New Brunswick that cross into Amherst to shop here.
What's at stake is upsetting that delicate balance that could result in fewer people coming to this side of the border and more travelling to New Brunswick to buy those big ticket items along with other daily purchases.
Steele really needs to be careful when he considers raising the HST.
What may seem as a slam dunk in fighting the deficit may in turn cause irreparable harm to retailers on the Nova Scotia side of the border and his good intentions at bringing this province's finances under control could very much turn Amherst into a retail ghost town.