Tom Dyas, President of the Kelowna Chamber, gives Budget 2017 from the BC Government a AAA Rating. “This is a budget that is built for business,” said Dyas on Tuesday, only an hour after Mike de Jong, Finance Minister, delivered the upbeat budget on the floor of the House in Victoria.
“It is a budget about choice for small businesses. They will be able to choose where they can save, and where they can re-invest.” The cut in the small business tax, from 2.5% down to 2% gives BC the second lowest small business tax rate in the country.
The 2017 budget combines continued fiscal discipline, including an on-going focus on paying down operating debt, and a number of forward-looking initiatives strongly advocated for by the BC Chamber network, such as looking at ways to reform the Provincial Sales Tax – including removing the PST on electricity bills for business – to support future economic growth.
A focus on marketing funding for forestry will be welcome news for Kelowna and many interior communities and businesses which depend heavily on the softwood lumber market. As well, the Province is opening a new Asian-based office, and is partnering with the Vancouver Board of Trade – to help train and prepare small businesses to address export markets – this will be key in the ongoing diversification of marketing initiatives.
Additional tech funding in Budget 2017 will be detailed in March at the Tech Summit. And, rural communities across the province will be getting 100% access to high-speed internet – at last.
Budget 2017 also includes several targeted initiatives to support further economic development and job creation across the province, including: the proposed elimination of Medical Service Premium, further investment in the Rural Dividend Program to strengthen and diversify rural economies, another extension to the Mining Flow-Through Share tax credit measures, a 1-year pause in the phase-out of the small business exemption for credit unions (a measure sponsored by the Kelowna Chamber), and a further increase to the Small Business Venture Capital tax credit.
“The BC Chamber was first to present to the Commission on Tax Competitiveness – and saw a number of our recommendations adopted, so we’re pleased the government is heeding the collective perspective of both the Commission and what’s on the mind of business by removing the PST on electricity bills for business,” said Val Litwin, President & CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. “This targeted tax relief will put hard-earned dollars back into the pockets of business owners, both big and small, so that can make bolder investments and hire more British Columbians.”
Budget 2017 forecasts another surplus of $295 million in 2017/18. Budget 2017 also includes a further $1.998 billion toward paying down the operating debt. Said Dyas, “B.C. businesses know that paying down the operating debt gives them more choice as to how they invest in the teams, infrastructure and, ultimately, communities that create B.C.’s nation-leading GDP growth.”