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Independent Abbotsford MLA believes budget won't balance

Independent Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen  - File Photo
Independent Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen
— image credit: File Photo

The B.C. Liberals' budget will not be as balanced as promised by finance minister and Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong, according to independent Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen.

"I strongly agree with the goal of a balanced budget… the problem with this budget is that the minister has stretched everything on both the revenue and the expense side to give the appearance of a balanced budget, but I don't actually believe it's achievable."

Van Dongen said because this budget relies heavily on the one-time sale of assets, the projections made within it are seriously vulnerable. He said one proposed sale not coming through will cause a deficit, and he is concerned that it is all too simple for that to occur.

"Government is notoriously ineffective at selling assets."

He maintained another problem of the budget is that is fails to attract business. It outlined carbon tax relief for greenhouse growers, something van Dongen considers a "band-aid solution." He said the carbon tax and the Pacific Carbon Trust need to be eliminated in order to signal there is a stable climate for investment in B.C. and to assist industries.

De Jong said the budget is not a typical pre-election budget with promises for funding in many areas, but van Dongen said the Liberals' financial plan is still out to prove a point.

"It's not the classic election budget, where the government promises to give a whole bunch of money away… but it is an election budget which in the minister's mind is designed to illustrate the difference between the B.C. Liberal party and the NDP."

Van Dongen's worry rests on whether the goals set out in the budget are achievable.

"This isn't realistic given the whole battery of decisions the government has made."

Van Dongen was elected as a Liberal MLA but in March 2012 he left to join the BC Conservative party. Several months later, he broke away again, and is now sitting as an independent.

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