For Immediate Release
October 21, 2008
Bater says Debt Elimination Must be Focus of Surplus
North Battleford - Saskatchewan Liberal Leader-Elect Ryan Bater says the government is “failing to seize a golden opportunity” to eliminate the provincial debt after hearing the Saskatchewan Party Government’s announcement to spend surplus revenue on income tax cuts, infrastructure, and debt reduction.
“We should be nervous about governments that make short-sighted political decisions at a time when we need long- term business decisions,” says Bater. “Our government has an exciting opportunity to finally free the people of Saskatchewan of the burden of public debt. Unfortunately, they are failing to seize that opportunity.”
Bater’s comments come after hearing the Saskatchewan Party Government’s recent announcement to increase the personal exemption on provincial income taxes by $4,000. The announcement also included an additional $1billion toward provincial debt and $500 million to infrastructure.
“The recent financial crisis that started in the United States and is spreading around the world should be giving policy makers in Saskatchewan serious concern,” warned Bater. “If there was ever a time to make some tough decisions regarding debt reduction that time is now. Otherwise we risk having our province’s financial future be dictated and constrained by the unaccountable and potentially irresponsible decisions of international bankers in New York, London, or Shanghai.”
“As exciting as these economic times are, we must be cautious about fostering an economy and a society that is dependent on outside forces. This economic boom has largely been based on commodity prices that are unpredictable and established by international market forces. For example, the price of a barrel of oil has recently plummeted to half of what it was only six months ago.”
“To use this one- time money for tax reduction that requires ongoing funding is irresponsible. How is this going to be paid for next year? Or the year after that?” Bater added. “Windfall revenues are filling our treasury, but government spending is also at a historic high, personal debt loads are increasing, and our public debt that has existed since the 1980s is still hanging over our heads.”
“If we don’t take the opportunity to eliminate our debt while we can then the boom will come and go and we will have nothing to show for it.”
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On a completely unrelated note, apologies everyone for being absent from the blogosphere for the past few weeks. In the coming days I hope to have some thoughts on the aftermath of the federal election (particularly the future of the Liberals in Western Canada) and some updates on life at Harvard.