Pre-budget message well received, says Chamber president
BY JOHN DECOSTE
The message Finance Minister Jamie Muir had for local business in last week’s pre-budget address seems to have been generally well received.
Muir spoke to Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce members Thursday at the NSCC Kingstec Campus.
He outlined the government’s agenda for its upcoming budget, including the plan to put the province further into debt in the short-term in an attempt to stimulate the flagging economy.
Speaking later in the morning, EKCC president Gary Morse said that “while he couldn’t speak for all our individual members,” as president, the government’s approach is reasonable under the circumstances. “While it would be nice to see the government continue paying down money on the provincial debt, the idea of using (surplus) money as a short-term economic stimulus is a good idea,” he said.
Reacting to Muir’s pledge of a balanced provincial budget (for an eighth straight year), he added, “that the government has been able to balance its budget while still providing (economic) stimulus is encouraging.”
Govt. will honour its commitments: Muir
Questions to Muir from the audience in attendance at the breakfast gathering focused on how the government plans to channel its infrastructure spending and whether any thought had been given to refinancing the debt, given more attractive current interest rates.
Muir assured those in attendance that the government “will honour all its commitments” to new schools and other infrastructure, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing alternative energy options.
In answer to a question from Kentville mayor Dave Corkum, he noted, “the $19 million earmarked for a new KCA school is still in place,” despite other more recent school spending announcements, and the province “is looking at an opening date of January, 2011.”
He added after the address, “if we get the budget through, a lot of things are ready to go, but until we get a budget passed, there’s a limit on how much we can spend.” As for refinancing the provincial debt, Muir confirmed the government “is actively exploring that option.”