With talks of major cost-saving measures and job cuts looming in the province, Keith Goulding said he was awaiting Tuesday’s provincial budget with uncertainty.
Tuesday afternoon, the president of the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade president was breathing a little easier.
“They have been talking about going into a deficit and they were giving some foreshadowing of major cuts. I was glad to see there wasn’t too deep of cuts across the sectors,” he said. “We as a business community are concerned about deficit spending, we want to make sure we are servicing and reducing our debt. I was glad to see them pulling in the spending and I think, as a board, we are pleased to see government move in the right direction to tackle the debt and start to bring that down in a measured manner.”
Budget 2012 included continued investment in tax credits and incentives for businesses and the survival of millions of dollars for such initiatives as the Business Attraction Fund, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Fund, and the Regional/Sectoral Diversification Fund.
Goulding said he and the board will have to check through the finer details of certain funding announcements, but is encouraged by his initial glance.
“Those are the kind of things we have talked about with the minister in the past,” he said of tax credits and incentives for businesses. “The key to our economic growth is to initiate growth from within our business community. We want the business community to take ownership of this, so using tax incentives as a way of inviting business to grow and expand is the right approach.”
There were also initiatives pertaining to social development, such as child care assistance, which Goulding said is an indirect benefit to the business community.
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“Businesses in the community trying to expand and grow are not able to do that unless they are able to attract the right professionals,” he said. “Having day care is often difficult, and it is becoming an ongoing issue. We saw that as an ongoing concern, coupled with affordable housing.”
Meanwhile, Corner Brook Deputy Mayor Donna Luther also said the budget had less doom and gloom than was forecasted, but many of the local announcements were funding previously committed.
She said maintaining the current level of municipal operating grants, including the continued cost-sharing ratios, was positive for the City of Corner Brook. However, like many municipalities across the province, Corner Brook was lobbying for a new municipal grant formula. Although the province committed to continue working towards establishing that, she said the need to create more money within municipalities to tackle crumbling infrastructure is immediate.
“There certainly has to be a change made,” she said. “We are all living in crumbling infrastructure and it is costing millions and millions of dollars to repair. We are putting that on the taxpayers in communities.”
For a city like Corner Brook, the deputy mayor said cost-sharing at a 30 per cent ratio is still too severe when trying to construct major capital projects like water and sewer treatment plants and systems.
The Western Star