Budget holds few surprises

Some tariff reduction may help cross-border shopping issue says Abbotsford Chamber executive director.

Canadian consumers head to the Huntingdon border crossing in Abbotsford

Canadian consumers head to the Huntingdon border crossing in Abbotsford

The 2013 federal budget held few surprises or major revelations, according to Allan Asaph.

However, the executive director of the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce did say the new budget unveiled Thursday sends “messages that the government is trying to emphasis stability, that they are trying to move towards deficit reduction.”

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty stressed tax fairness, saying it was important to Canadians that everyone pay their fair share. He also said the government would aim to crack down on tax cheats by closing loopholes and enforcing tax compliance, in the hopes of saving $6.7 billion over six years.

There is also a plan to set up a “snitch line” for people who want to report international tax evasion or avoidance.

Asaph said it’s good news that the government is taking steps to reduce the size of the deficit and investing in the future workforce.

“We’re happy to see them putting money into job training, that’s an important one,” he said.

However, Asaph said one of the most interesting announcements for the Fraser Valley area, was the slight change in tariffs.

“In terms of the cross-border shopping issue and our key issue with tariffs, I see they made a small inroad in they’ve removed the tariffs on children’s clothing and hockey and golf equipment … It’s a small step but hopefully that results in an increase in sales in that area.”

He said more sales in those areas may be enough to send a message to the federal government on why tariff reduction is important to retail business in Canada.

“At least it shows a willingness on their part to address the tariffs.”

No new taxes were announced in this year’s budget.

Other budget highlights include:

  • The promise of a balanced budget in 2015
  • A slight tax increase, targeted at chewing tobacco and fine-cut tobacco used in roll-your-own cigarettes, to bring tax rates on those products in line with taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products
  • The budget contains new money for infrastructure to repair roads and bridges.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) gave the federal budget a B-minus, applauding the government’s plans to overhaul job training and keep a lid on spending, while criticizing other aspects, including funding regional development programs and make-work projects.

“Jim Flaherty continues to take baby steps towards a balanced budget,” said CTF Federal Director Gregory Thomas.

He said five straight budget deficits and $150 billion in new federal borrowing are now catching up with taxpayers: despite historically low interest rates, interest charges on the federal debt will rise $700 million this year, $500 million next year and $1.3 billion in 2015.

“We don’t want to wait until 2015 for a balanced budget because we can’t afford to waste $81 million a day paying interest on the national debt,” said Thomas.