Better accounting needed of government money spent on trade missions

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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FILE PHOTO: Premier Wade MacLauchlan

Recently, Premier Wade MacLauchlan announced he and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynn are leading a trade mission to India in February to help local businesses connect with global companies for exports. Again?

In 2012, Premier Robert Ghiz went to India on a trade mission (remember the first-class plane ticket ‘discussion’?). On his return, he told CBC News that IT company MphasiS would come to P.E.I. and create about 300 well-paying jobs by 2014. The most recent news I have been able to find is that they have an office in Charlottetown with less than a dozen people.

 Records tabled (2012) in the P.E.I. legislature show the Department of Innovation allocated $9.3 million from a $14.6-million Labour Rebate fund to MphasiS to help fund the 300 jobs. Then Innovation Minister (and now Finance Minister) Al Roach said, “These rebates are paid only after a company is established and operating in the province.” So, does the office of less than a dozen people meet the criteria? If so, is it safe to assume that only a very small portion of the $9.3 million was given to MphasiS?

 In January 2015, Ghiz returned to India and said “the company (MphasiS) is still waiting for some contracts to come through, but he maintains it will eventually translate into more jobs on the Island.” Ghiz is gone, but I think the rest of us are still waiting.

And now Premier MacLauchlan is heading back to India. I have no trouble with Island leaders and business owners using our tax money for these trade missions, if they have some kind of tangible results. I expect a better accounting for the time and money spent.

 We will eagerly await your detailed report, Mr. Premier.

Lloyd Kerry,

Charlottetown

Organizations: CBC News, Department of Innovation

Geographic location: India, P.E.I., Charlottetown Ontario

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