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No excuse for further Liberal HST stalling

Harvey Oberfeld
By Harvey Oberfeld
May 16th, 2012

The BC Liberals and their friends in the corporate and media communities, have tried to sell the public on their supposed “business” abilities…unlike those “socialists” on the other side.

And yet, after the voters ordered them to get rid of the HST, they are incapable of  returning for a full NINETEEN MONTHS to a provincial sales tax regime that was in effect in this province for probably more than 50 years.

Pay special attention to the time lines because I believe they tell you a lot about the Liberals’ abilities/willingness to act/react and carry out the voters’ instructions.

The Liberals were re-elected May 12, 2009 and we now know that within a very few days, their government was having dealings with the federal government over bringing in the HST, even though Premier Gordon Campbell had personally denied during the election campaign, that the HST was even being considered.

Amazingly, though, they were able to announce plans–complete with finalized negotiations with Ottawa–to introduce the HST in BC on July 23, 2009, only nine weeks after election day and only eight weeks after the new government was sworn in. 

Yes, the Liberals clearly CAN work fast when they want to. It was only their acumen with financial figures was soon shown to be quite fictional after they, and their economic experts, had all vowed the HST would be “revenue neutral”.

And too many in the media actually believed them, parroting that “expert assessment” over and over–hook, line and stinker.

But there was still more vrey fast work to come. The Hated Sales Tax went through complete legislative consideration, debate, approval, Royal Assent, a business education program, province-wide cash register adjustments and a huge advertising campaign … ALL fast enough for the new tax to go into effect on July 1, 2010, less than eleven months after this major change in the way British Columbia does business was approved and taxpayers began paying the new levy.

Amazing speed!

And yet they expect the public to believe now that things actually take a lot longer to reverse than to implement.

Sure.

The voters spoke in August 2011 and told the government to get rid of the HST.

Seems to me that would be a fairly simple legislative task: just bring back the previously repealed legislation and lists of eligible and exempt products and services.  Maybe consolidate some of old bills into a single new one; maybe even tweak the coverage; and certainly give business enough time to reset their cash registers.

Six months, tops!

But no, the business experts’ party now say the transition … back to the system we used for so many decades will take until April 1, 2013 to implement: nineteen months after the referendum results were announced.

Are provincial bureaucrats so incompetent or lazy that they can’t bring back the previous tax–legislation, regulations and all (complete with any recommended modifications of the previous Acts) in six or nine months?  If so, they are lucky to be working in government: because any administrators in private industry who said it would take them more than a year and a half to bring back a system they had used for decades before…would be out on their rear ends within weeks (without fancy lucrative severance packages too)!

I believe the lonnnnnnnnng delay is due to political reasons: an arrogant government that disrespects the will of the people as long as possible so their big business friends–and the government itself–can cash in as long as possible on the lop-sided HST, which has loaded an extra tax burden of hundreds of millions of dollars on consumers, especially the middle class.

And I believe the public knows this too: the latest poll dropping the Liberals to a miserable 23 per cent popular support.

The election is now only 12 months away yet the Liberals still show no signs of understanding–let alone catering to–the public will.

People wanted the HST be gone by now!

It could have been done; it should have been done; and every day it remains … and every extra dollar it continues to pull out of the voters’ pockets … is another nail in the coffin of the current Liberal government.

With the announcement that  the HST will linger to April 1, 2013 the only thing that can save them now would be some sort of huge NDP/Dix gaff.

Otherwise, they’re toast.

Harv Oberfeld is a retired journalist and broadcaster. This column originally appeared in his blog, Keeping It Real. Reprinted with permission.

This post was syndicated from https://rosslandtelegraph.com
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