Tuesday, June 9, 2015

ELECTIONEERING AND MESSY OMELETTES

Those Tories must think we all fell of a turnip truck.

After a decade of missed opportunity, taking credit for wild windfalls and failing to diversify the economy - the unelected Premier is promising to reconsider raising the HST by two per cent - if oil prices rise.

Remember the days of successive premiers, finance ministers, throne speeches and budgets speaking about the great fiscal management of the province's books. They took credit for  the billions that rolled into the Queen's coffers from inflated oil, iron ore, nickel and copper prices.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s non-renewable resources - not the fiction of growing the economy, sound fiscal management, pride and determination -  made us a have province.

As the last couple of budgets have shown, we may have squandered an opportunity to pass on to future generations a province not plagued by high unemployment, with decaying public infrastructure and a crippling debt!

Which gets to my beef today. Premier Davis wants us to believe that the current situation is completely beyond the control of those that govern us. That the province is like a cork in the ocean, at the mercy of the tides.

If the gods of world trade and economics produce higher sustained higher oil prices the government will be able to cancel the HST increase that Davis says they were "forced" to inflict on the people.

Government mismanagement, unsustainable spending and a failure to diversify the economy is a great part of the blame for the current situation. Putting all of our eggs in one basket has made a heck of a messy omelette. 

Yes, the administration had some huge big ticket items to pay for. The government half-tackled the public pension issues, payed down some debt, it  paid off some high interest loans and invested in roads, ferries, schools, children, health and education but we have a long way to go in terms or rebuilding our roads, bridges, municipal water supplies or slaying the debt.

The reality is that the government has never had control over oil and commodity prices. Over the past ten years thousands of jobs have vanished forever in the forest sector, the cement plant in Corner Brook is gone, huge construction companies have folded up, many manufacturing businesses have closed their doors and FPI, the social conscious company and our rural savior was  dismantled which leaves the province more reliant on non-renewable.

We spent much more than we should have based on income that was never guaranteed, when we should  been fiscally Conservative and socially responsible.

It is electioneering, plain and simple.  The increase is not due to grab your wallet until January 2016 - by than the Tories could be long gone. This window provides them with an opportunity to reverse the increase before the election call and get credit. It is not a bright strategy - but desperation.

Hence the real tempest, creating sustainable opportunities outside of our non-renewable resource base! If anything we have lost a great deal of diversity. What has not changed in 12 years  is our dependence on a few staples to support most of the economy.

Is it mission impossible? Are we doomed to our lot in life, perennially living beyond our means or does someone offer a valid alternative? 

Are we prepared to be honest with ourselves about cutting the garment to fit the cloth?




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