More care in who controls funding

Letters to the Editor (The Amherst Daily News)
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Nova Scotia politicians - both government and opposition - are in agreement about the benefit of investing in the province's industries. But critics of the Conservatives, not surprisingly, say there's a better, more fair way of going about it.

Premier Rodney MacDonald's government announced Tuesday the Industrial Expansion Fund will be increased by $175 million. The intention is to help a number of businesses weather tough recessionary times.

Our opinion -

Nova Scotia politicians - both government and opposition - are in agreement about the benefit of investing in the province's industries. But critics of the Conservatives, not surprisingly, say there's a better, more fair way of going about it.

Premier Rodney MacDonald's government announced Tuesday the Industrial Expansion Fund will be increased by $175 million. The intention is to help a number of businesses weather tough recessionary times.

MacDonald added that many of these transactions are in the form of interest-bearing loans, to be repaid to government. So it's not necessarily a matter of throwing money at business.

It sounds reasonable, if we accept the examples of government help we're seeing at home and abroad. And in the case of these Nova Scotia companies, they are often in the category of small business, what we often refer to as the engines of our economy.

What concerns the NDP and Liberals, however, is that the fund and decisions are controlled by the cabinet.

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil went as far as to call it a political slush fund and made reference to the likelihood of a coming election. NDP Leader Darrell Dexter also complained of the lack of legislative insight involved. He asked why such help for business cannot be done through the arm's-length government agency Nova Scotia Business Inc.

As a matter of fact, it is difficult to ascertain an absence of favouritism in a fund controlled by one party and under a veil.

Also, more Nova Scotians would be comfortable with a group of people making loan-related decisions who aren't politicians but, rather, have expertise in the entrepreneurial realm and in business strategy.

It's not like this Industrial Expansion Fund is brand new. It's been a point of contention for some time.

Moreover, there's been little doubt in the past several months that governments will be borrowing to invest in business. The province needs to take a long look at the mechanics of this lending to ensure best results.

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Recent comments

  • Roger Langille
    January 18, 2010 - 11:14

    175 million for Tory Gangsters only !

    Any fool who would vote for these Tory Gangsters needs to have their head examined !

  • Don
    January 18, 2010 - 11:01

    I agree totally.