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Board of Trade lobbies for HST

Businesses want the tax and don't want to see a reduction in it, Huberman
Anita Patil-Huberman

The Surrey Board of Trade is lobbying to keep the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and to hold off on any reduction in the controversial levy.

The Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT) recently conducted a survey of its membership on the much-maligned HST and found most of the member businesses support it.

"The active position, was and will remain to be that we support the HST and that it is good for business," said the SBOT CEO Anita Huberman.

The SBOT asked businesses what impact the HST has had on them. Of those that responded, 25.2 per cent said the effect has been better than anticipated, 62.6 per cent said it was as they thought it would be and 12.1 per cent said it was worse.

Three out of four respondents thought the negative reaction to the HST was a result of how it was implemented and the rest thought it was reviled because of the tax.

And about three out of four opposed a return to the PST/GST regime, while the rest would like to see taxes return to where they were before HST.

The board also does not want to see the tax lowered from its current 12 per cent.

"We do not support a reduction in the rate (of the HST) – we want the government to focus on debt reduction," Huberman said. "We feel that if the rate is reduced, that the province will lose more money. That's not good for the economy, and that's not good for business."

Huberman acknowledges the support for the HST among the SBOT membership isn't unanimous, with almost one in four still opposing it.

"I think in this scenario that this issue is very difficult to be able to please everyone in terms of what their expectations of the tax should be," Huberman said, adding the bulk of people had problem with the implementation. "For some of the industries, it still poses a challenge."

The SBOT and the Vancouver Board of Trade are heading to Victoria in mid-June to lobby the government not to reduce the tax.

The two boards have a meeting with B.C. Minister of Finance Kevin Falcon on June 20.