British Columbia Liberals launch tourist loans, eliminate business tax
Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson’s plan to provide bridge financing and loan guarantees to operators of the tourism industry sparked the same reaction the provincial government had last month when it unveiled its economic stimulus package. $ 1.5 billion – nice try, but it isn’t. go quite far.
During a campaign stop in the Lower Mainland, Wilkinson said his party, if elected, would make bridge funding for tourism operators a “top priority” and eliminate small business income tax for good. by 2%.
Wilkinson said he had heard from too many operators that their businesses might not survive the winter and could go bankrupt by Christmas.
The news elicited a mixed reaction from the tourism community, with many pointing out that few details were available.
Vivek Sharma, president of the Tourism Industry Association of BC, said the industry is facing an unprecedented crisis. “It made everything we had to deal with feel like a walk in the park,” he said. “The industry needs action.
Sharma said the bridge financing pledge leaves many questions unanswered, such as how to apply, who can apply, how loan guarantees would work and how banks would respond, although he added: “As a industry, we appreciate any gesture that adds liquidity and greatly appreciate anything that helps us move on to next year and beyond.
Sharma said the government failed when it unveiled its $ 1.5 billion economic stimulus package last month, offering $ 100 million to the tourism sector, a new task force and regional grants. The industry had requested a package of $ 680 million.
“What was given was really not enough, but it was another step in the right direction,” he said, noting that tourism helps bind communities together.
The BC Liberals said loan guarantees would be determined on a case-by-case basis and would remain in place until the pandemic subsides and the tourism industry is back on track. The party says it could have the program in place by Christmas.
John Wilson, president of the Greater Victoria Chamber and chief executive of Wilson’s Group, said the industry was desperate.
“Tourism businesses need help. They need help now and they need help to survive until conditions change enough so that they can resume their activities, hopefully by spring, ”he said. . “If the government does not give details on how it will help tourism survive, it will be difficult for many operators to make the decision to continue. We risk losing a lot of vital employers in this region. And we risk losing a lot of the businesses that help make this great community that it is. “
House Managing Director Bruce Williams said eliminating income tax is a good step, but changes to the Employer Health Tax are also needed, as well as to ensure that costs are not starting to climb for small businesses because of pandemic safety measures.
Eliminating the small business income tax would cost the government approximately $ 220 million in revenue per year.
Wilkinson expects him to increase employment and investment in small and medium-sized businesses.
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