Government waters down NDP effort to help small business
Today was Private Members’ Day in the House of Assembly. NDP MHA George Murphy (St. John’s East) presented his party’s first motion, and expressed his disappointment at the government’s attitude to small businesses in the province.
Murphy’s motion was designed to reduce the provincial small business tax from 4 per cent to 3 per cent, a reduction of 25 per cent. The measure was met with approval from representatives of the small business community when the NDP included it as one of the key commitments in its 2011 election platform.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Murphy said. “This simple measure would have a relatively small impact on the provincial government budget, but it would make a huge difference to businesses as well as the communities they are part of.” The total cost to government of reducing the small business tax would be $4 million.
Government watered down the NDP proposal so that it committed government only to “considering” the reduction – and then only when government was in a surplus budget position.
“How does this government expect to get in a surplus position without a thriving small business community?” Murphy demanded.
“We are asking for a relative pittance for our small businesses,” he added. “The government refuses to come up with a $4 million investment for small business, but will happily throw $7 billion at Nalcor for the Muskrat Falls project.
“I would think that if government had a real plan to actually support the small business community, it would embrace this measure,” Murphy said. “Instead, we get empty talk on the importance of the small business sector and entrepreneurs. Government is happy to brag about our tourism and cultural industries, but not so eager to take one small step to support them.”