Two sides of the HST

The final numbers for the 2010-11 fiscal year, which ended on March 31, show that the province ran a deficit of $309 million — much lower than projected

The final numbers for the 2010-11 fiscal year, which ended on March 31, show that the province ran a deficit of $309 million — much lower than projected.

This is due partially to strong economic growth and additional tax revenue, but it is also due to a large payment from Ottawa of $769 million.

This payment is related to the decision to implement the HST, which has yet to be ratified by voters. If it is turned down, that money will have to be paid back.

Sales taxes brought in more than $5 billion, with $4.176 billion coming from the HST, which went into effect on July 1, 2010.

Finance Minister Kevin Falcon said that it will cost the province about $3 billion if the HST is rejected by voters.

Only some of that number can be quantified — the only known figure is the $1.6 billion transition payment from Ottawa which will almost certainly have to be paid back.

It is obvious, but remains unsaid, that the HST is a cash cow which the Liberals see as closing the fiscal gap and bringing about an eventual surplus.

The NDP, on the other hand, opposes the HST and wants the provincial sales tax to come back. Whether it would raise as much money is uncertain.

Yet the NDP must eventually give definite answers as to how they would balance the books.

– Black Press