British Columbia cuts taxes to counter slowdown

Wed Oct 22, 2008 10:31pm EDT
 
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - British Columbia will speed up planned tax cuts to help residents deal with the global economic slowdown but will not put its budget back in a deficit, Premier Gordon Campbell said on Wednesday.

The country's third-largest province will also provided unlimited insurance for deposits in its credit unions, and work with neighboring Alberta to develop a new privately funded pension fund for workers whose employers do not have one.

A 3 percent personal income tax scheduled for 2009 as part of the province's enacting a carbon tax system will be made retroactive to apply to this year. Several business tax cuts will also be speeded up.

The province said in early September it was projecting a C$1 billion surplus for the 2008/2009 fiscal year, and Campbell said its economy was still in better shape than the rest of the country despite the global economic storm of recent weeks and dropping commodity prices.

Ontario, Canada's largest province, warned on Wednesday that it now expects to run its first budget deficit in four years because of the slowdown, but Campbell said British Columbia would not have to do that and could find other ways to cut spending.

"We will not start digging ourselves into that hole that we worked so hard to get out of in 2001," Campbell, who is facing re-election next summer, said in a special televised address on the economy.

British Columbia has enjoyed large budget surpluses in recent years because of income from the energy industry, and a strong real estate economy in the Vancouver area.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Chris Wilson)