With two weeks to go before the HST is finally extinguished, the Liberal government is still scrambling to get B.C. businesses prepared to switch back to the PST.
Reports indicate that roughly half of the 130,000 businesses that will collect the PST are not prepared for its return April 1. It’s just the latest in the long line of failures that started with a broken promise by the Liberal government prior to the 2009 election and has created economic uncertainty in B.C. for four years.
- The Liberals said they expected to have the legislation to switch back to the PST passed before the end of 2012. They then cancelled the fall session of the legislature, meaning the legislation was not introduced until February of this year. Earlier introduction of the legislation would have meant the rules for the changeover would have come earlier.
- The Liberals took just 11 months to change the sales tax system from the GST + PST to the HST, but the reintroduction of the PST has taken 19 months.
- The HST increased the cost of many common goods and services that were not captured by the PST, including haircuts, veterinary services, energy-efficient appliances, bikes and bike helmets and kids’ sports programs.
- The introduction of the HST increased uncertainty for small businesses, with many business owners at first confused about the conversion to the HST and now confused about switching back. Moreover, many consumers decided against major purchases because of the HST – a delay compounded by the extended length of time taken to switch back from the HST.
New Democrat small business critic Jagrup Brar: “Small businesses paid the price for this government’s failure and broken promises. The Liberals said they wouldn’t bring in the HST, and then right after the last election they did exactly that.
“The Liberals have been consumed with campaigning instead of governing for the last two years. They're spending $17 million on pre-election ads instead of doing the work to make sure businesses are ready to return to the PST.”
The B.C. Liberals aren’t up to the challenges facing British Columbia today. B.C.'s New Democrats are offering change for the better, one practical step at a time.