Local business leaders applaud renewed Sask. Party mandate
Posted on April 6, 2016 in In the Media
The Saskatchewan Party’s comfortable victory over the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party in Monday’s provincial election should increase confidence in the local economy, according to two of Saskatoon’s business leaders.
“I think that from the standpoint of creating an environment where people are comfortable investing, it’s probably solidified and improved — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t specific issues … that need to be addressed,” said Kent Smith-Windsor, executive director of the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce.
Early in the campaign, the Sask. Party promised an incentive — known as the innovation box — that would halve the corporate tax rate on income earned from commercializing patents. Smith-Windsor said he’s eager for Saskatchewan to become the first jurisdiction in North America with an innovation box tax cut, which has “significant potential” for local firms.
At the same time, the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce is eager for information on what its executive director calls the “deficit exit strategy.” The Chamber also wants non-residential property tax assessment reform, which Smith-Windsor said would make businesses “much better able to understand the implications of investment.”
“The system is overly complex and we’re a little overly dependent on it as a funding mechanism,” Smith-Windsor said, noting that while corporate tax rates are more often discussed, commercial property taxes can have a bigger impact on business decisions.
The Sask. Party has proven willing to listen and respond to the concerns of local businesses in the past, and Brad Wall’s re-election should create “a high degree” of confidence among Saskatoon-based firms, according to North Saskatoon Business Association executive director Keith Moen.
“There seems to be a recognition from this government that the role of business is to create employment, and that is perhaps different than what their counterparts’ was, in that they see the role of government as (being) to create jobs, so we think that there’s a synergy there,” Moen said.
That “synergy” is reflected in programs like Priority Sask, a division of SaskBuilds designed to improve government procurement processes and make contracts more accessible to Saskatchewan businesses. The Sask. Party’s commitment to not raising taxes is another example of its concern for local firms, Moen added.
There are concerns — among them the promise of a deficit budget and the tendency of all governments to grow complacent over time — and the ongoing commodities downturn makes significant tax cuts unlikely, Moen said. However, the overall picture for Saskatchewan business is bright, he added.
“I think the biggest thing is that there’s a recognition that their role in the economy is to provide the conditions for business to do its business and to prosper; it’s not to get in the way and cause undue regulatory challenges or impediments.”