UPDATE: Economic focus must shift to private sector: Throne Speech

Teresa Wright
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Opposition Leader Olive Crane says speech offers no plan

Premier Robert Ghiz says it is time for the private sector to take over as the economic driver of the province.

In his second throne speech since being re-elected last year, Ghiz outlines the numerous investments and programs his government has implemented since 2007 – especially during the stimulus spending period following the worldwide recession.

That spending and the resulting initiatives must now pave the way for the private sector to emerge as the focus of economic growth for P.E.I., Ghiz says in the Throne Speech.

CLICK HERE FOR HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2012 THRONE SPEECH 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE ENTIRE DOCUMENT

“It is extremely important to shift our economic emphasis toward the private sector,” the speech says.

“As that historic shift in emphasis takes place, the province will ensure that a balanced approach is taken, in a way that enhances our economic prospects.”

Speaking to reporters, Ghiz said he hopes to accomplish this through encouraging diversification in P.E.I.’s three main industries of farming, fishing and tourism.

HST legislation to be introduced this fall is another major component of this plan.

Ghiz says the new harmonized tax will level the playing field for P.E.I. companies in Atlantic Canada. This, in turn, will help those businesses prosper.

“It’s about creating the tax structure for those businesses in our province to be able to grow, creating incentives out there,” Ghiz said.

Government will also work on more trade missions and trade agreements so Island businesses can expand exports of P.E.I. products into new and emerging markets such as China, India, Brazil, Mexico and Turkey.

“We’ve been too focused on the U.S. economy, in particular the northeastern United States where 80 per cent of our exports have been going,” Ghiz told reporters.

“We need to find more markets, we’re an exporting province. If we do not have exports, our province does not survive so that’s what we’re going to concentrate on.”

The province will also increase support for job training and education. A new Workforce Development Program will be established, which will ensure skills training programs maximize opportunities for Island workers while strengthening industries.

“The introduction of the HST will level the playing field and simplify the tax system – enabling businesses to grow investment, exports, and jobs,” 2012 Throne Speech

There will also be easier access to capital for Island entrepreneurs with an expansion of the Entrepreneurship Loan Program and a reinstatement of the Student Entrepreneurship Loan Program.

But with this focus on growing the private sector, government has planned few new public programs or initiatives.

The bulk of the throne speech document lists funding and programs previously announced or initiated.

Ghiz said this is because his government is now “protecting the investments (government) made over the last five years and also looking at how we can improve our economy in the province of P.E.I.”

Opposition Leader Olive Crane says she believes the throne speech offers no tangible plans to address the province’s current challenges.

“For example, they mention about a fiscal problem, there’s no plan here on how they’re going to address that fiscal problem, they talk about creation of employment in the private sector but there’s no plan to demonstrate exactly how they’re going to that,” Crane said.

The throne speech document should contain government’s priorities and an action plan to outline how this would be accomplished, Crane said.

“This speech from the throne lacks any detail … I believe (it mentions) three times about the party in 2014 but no detail on how they private sector is going to create more employment in the province.”

The speech does outline a new announcement that books will be exempted from the provincial portion of the HST when it is implemented April 1. It also says legislation will be introduced this fall that will see civil servants increasing their pension contributions.

Otherwise, government’s main focus will be to try to grow private-sector jobs, balance the books by 2015 and build on the last five years of investments in education and health care.

“We cannot fix every problem overnight but what we can try to do is put the foundation in place so that Islanders will be in a better position over the long run,” Ghiz said.

The throne speech marks the beginning of the fall sitting of the legislature.

This session will be a heavy one for legislation with approximately 25 bills coming forward, including the much-anticipated HST legislation.

Other legislation this fall will include the School Act, the Regulation of Health Professionals Act, the Public Health Act, the Pension Benefits Act and the Highway Traffic Act.

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  • chucker
    November 15, 2012 - 08:04

    Translation. We have given the richest and most powerful guys in the province everything they could imagine- PNP, HST. Plan B, etc.- and have gotten nothing in terms of job creation and new investment in return. Now that we have given everything away we are begging for some results. That about covers it.

  • john
    November 14, 2012 - 18:28

    If I was as disrespected, inept, and held in such contempt as Ghiz is today, I think I would feel compelled to resign. We talk about Olive resigning over her ratings, well, Ghiz' s ratings are desperate, any one with an ounce of self respect would be getting out and letting decency return to government.

  • indigo
    November 14, 2012 - 18:22

    yah the playing field will be level all right, --- (0h the platitudes that rolls of this silver tongue)---the reality: the poor will be destitude and the rich will be 'gold plated', - as will our elected 'shining' lights.

  • willy
    November 14, 2012 - 18:16

    SAP, I am with you, do we have a private sector??? With ACOA and all the 'FUNDS" , loan program and everything else in the IIDI arsenal one realizes that no firm or company moves without the the GOVERNMENT 'teet', even Irvings are suckling and apparently proud of it, - the current business moto appears to be, -no grant= no business. One has to wonder what planet Ghiz is living on--- wonder if he is in touch with reality.

  • John Getson
    November 14, 2012 - 15:29

    Just curious... How does the current public response to levels of austerity cuts in Europe, reflect the levels of reaction that could be experienced here (in PEI and Canada) in light of the current attitudes and future austerity?

  • SG
    November 14, 2012 - 14:14

    (“It’s about creating the tax structure for those businesses in our province to be able to grow, creating incentives out there,” Ghiz said.) What are the incentives for Island Tax Payers? More Taxes, More Debt and Poverty?

  • SAP
    November 14, 2012 - 13:59

    Private sector? Does PEI have one of those? You mean all the successful private businesses that suckle at the government teet?

  • harold
    November 14, 2012 - 12:47

    Was it not the private sector that wanted the HST?? The Chamber?? and the Federation of Agriculture ?? Or was that Ghiz propaganda, - or did let themselves willingly be used?? We should have had a referendum, but Ghiz knew the outcome, WE WOULD HAVE VOTED IT DOWN, so he resorted to dictating. It is freightening that one man can have such power as to make our lives misserable -- in a western nation in 2012--- how far have we come????

  • dustin
    November 14, 2012 - 12:31

    This is a document showing a government out of ideas, --- rehash and more rehash, - and we have to endure them for 2 more years, - while they tax us to death, --- they have lost all credibility with secrecy and detachment from the people.

  • johnthames
    November 14, 2012 - 12:18

    Premier Robert Ghiz says it is time for the private sector to take over as the economic driver of the province. Does Mr. Ghiz actually live in PEI or is he from away? The HST will ensure the weak and broken private sector does diddly squat. Someone should give Mr. Ghizzy a reality check.

    • not sure
      November 14, 2012 - 18:56

      Does Mr. Ghiz actually live in PEI or is he from away? We aren't sure. Sometimes you see him, most times you don't. He must live away because he doesn't seem to know what islanders think or feel.

  • cornelius
    November 14, 2012 - 12:04

    And we pay a bunch of people to concoct this document, and we pay a bunch of elected people to sit there in the House and pretend this is for real, ----- go away with you Ghiz-

  • rankin
    November 14, 2012 - 12:01

    A SHAME AND A SHAM-

  • laurie
    November 14, 2012 - 11:57

    words, words, words, - and no substance, the Ghiz trademark, - they simply do not havde a clue, - one minute the private sector is going to run with it, - Ghiz is going to have them do 'something', sounds like he is passing on the responsibility on to them to clean up the financial mess HE has made, - then the next thing he says the government is going to help with loans and trade missions, --- there are just so many words contradicting each other it is impossible to made head or tails of this document, --- but then again, what does it matter, he will wallow in the HST money next year, and 'rule' in the same old irresponsible way, - where Islanders will have no say, - and will be busy makinmg ends meet,after taxes, ---- too bad Mr Ghiz would not 'retire' so perhaps we could get some intelligent,honest and responsible leadership

  • Uncle Wally
    November 14, 2012 - 07:14

    Sigh . . . even smoke and mirrors will cost Islanders more after the HST is implemented. That is, unless you sell smoke and mirrors to, "enhance our economic prospects.”

    • sentance
      November 14, 2012 - 11:22

      Hate to be a smartass, but actually the tax on mirrors will be going down with the HST.

    • To SENTANCE
      November 14, 2012 - 18:38

      SENTANCE, no no, smoke and mirrors - once they're together, it's one taxable item. Like beans and flatulence . . .

  • Henry Sow
    November 13, 2012 - 21:09

    Legislation to introduce increased pension contributions from the employer and other public sector employees. What is that telling you? Looks like those working will continue to carry the Province on our backs. Has anything changed? Time to drop a few MLA's and their pensions with them. Imagine having to give a big pension to those in power at present, those who have sold the Province out, made their friends rich, and now get a big healthy pension for their efforts. Organized crime personified.

    • The Facilitator
      November 14, 2012 - 08:35

      Henry - What are you talking about? What this means is that the Civil Service Pension plans are not viable , given the current economic realities. Interest rates are very low. These Pension plans cannot generate sufficient revenue to pay for the benefits that Provincial employees expect from the plan, consequently the pension plans need more money up front to ensure their sustainability. It only seems reasonable that those that will be enjoying the benefits from these pension plans should contribute more to keep them viable. Does this not make sense to you? Most Islanders who pay taxes to support these pension plans do not have a pension plan, or if they do it does not guarantee benefits such the the Provincial employee plans. These plans are costing us $10s of millions of dollars a year as taxpayers to keep them afloat. enough is enough.

  • let their friends help now
    November 13, 2012 - 16:55

    Well, PEI has run out of money because it's all been given away to their friends. So, "Hey, buddies! Payback time! Put some of it back into the economy now!" Thanks and goodnight.

  • Thank you Guardian
    November 13, 2012 - 16:40

    Thank you Guardian for the easy access to primary documents. Now, how about the next step? When important documents are issued why not set up a special blog - one that attracts a high calibre of analysis and/or wit? Perhaps you could invite key contributors - certain MLA's, university professors, etc. Anyway, just a thought . . . isn't it time for this medium to become more interactive?

  • don
    November 13, 2012 - 15:27

    Premier Robert Ghiz says it is time for the private sector to take over as the economic driver of the province. yes bully we better as you and your clowns has no idea what to do other then SPEND OUR MONEY. plus GIVE IT AWAY. oh where is our 10mill from OCI? and what friend is buying the hotel? you all waited till it closed then they can by it at say 5 cents on the dollar. so we islanders get SCREWED AGAIN.

  • peier
    November 13, 2012 - 14:11

    More Ghiz "Much Ado About Nothing".......does anyone see anything new here? just a few more programs to make it easier and more legitimate to help "friends" of the administration!! Spends all his time complaining about the EI program....about time he spent some energy on what he can control instead of what he can't! Also, more capability to invest in pension programs?? Dah, the unemployed and seasonally employed will be glad to hear that great change!! lol Is this man for real??

  • why not say it your on your own
    November 13, 2012 - 13:24

    In PEI where 65% of the GDP is government spending, Ghiz should be a little more honest and just say it "I cannot do anything for you PEI you are on your own" but he will attend to his own pension. All failed budget governments MLA's should have their pensions repealed if we ever get an honest government in. thanks eh?