The following letter was sent to the Premier and Finance Minister by the author, who then shared it with The Independent…
Dear Mr. Ball and Ms. Bennett,
Hope you have time to read this letter from a common citizen of N.L. who made this province a home by choice in 2010, directly coming from India, because of the wonderful stories I heard from our friends who are living here for the last 20 years in spite of difficult times in the past. On arrival what I found was truly wonderful — not only the landscape but more than that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
However, in the last few days and months this experience has really turned upside down, and without mincing my words I would say this present government has created such a scenario in its first budget which indirectly tells people you are not welcome in this province and if you can find a home somewhere else, go away! This budget also indicates the inexperience of the politicians, who lacks a road map for progress, in dealing with economic situations.
Before I start listing the shortfalls and repercussions of the budget, let me start with a quote from Lao Tse, a Chinese thinker and philosopher of 600 BC: “The more morals and taboos there are, the more cruelty afflicts people; The more guns and knives there are, the more factions divide people; The more arts and skills there are, the more change obsoletes people; The more laws and taxes there are, the more theft corrupts people.” Please read the last line of the quote carefully, as this is where this budget will lead the people and N.L. society to.
In my understanding, the primary duty of a government is to create opportunities for employment and to tax the people at bearable levels. Even a person of my level, I can tell you that this budget has no vision or road map for progress.
Your government has failed to understand the basic principle of economics that people earn and spend money in three ways: through income tax, through sales taxes, and through savings for future security. Without increasing a person’s income, yet increasing their direct taxes, the other two categories will be affected. People will either spend less money, which means less revenue through sales taxes like HST (even though the HST rate has increased), or they will have less savings, meaning less money in the economy and more burden on future governments to provide adequate social services. The increase in corporate taxes will mean businesses will compensate by increasing their retail prices, which again will reduce the purchasing power of the commoner.
I expect that, as a citizen who chose to make N.L. my home, this government will revisit their budget and roll back the suffocating taxes.
As I said, this budget has no vision, and is solely depending on recoveries in the oil and gas and mining industries. It makes no effort to develop other opportunities to take advantage of resources like landscape, wood, water, weather for electronic industry available in this beautiful province, which can be one of the best tourist destinations in the world, especially for Europeans being as close as they are. I am sure you are aware that even many Canadians from other provinces have never traveled to this province in spite of wonderful landscape and friendly people, solely because of lack of willpower and vision of previous and current governments. There was and still is no effort to convert these resources into opportunities (you may listen to Ted Talk of Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay of Bhutan, a small landlocked country with no oil, minerals, port but only water and trees).
You have rightly blamed the previous government—which is always the easiest thing to do—for all the mess, but before coming to power you were aware about the situation which led you to make tall promises. I also wonder why you are doing nothing to cut down government expenses, which perhaps are one of the highest in the world per capita. I will not go into the details of the Sunshine list, but from the numbers you can assess that it is part of your major expanse ratio for the budget number and you are trying to cut the deficit of $1.8 billion from a working population of approximately 250,000 without taking realistically good measures but instead just plucking the low-hanging fruits of taxing people and demotivating them to continue living in the province.
I have spoken to various people of different background and was shocked to know that they are exploring options to live in New Brunswick, Ontario or other provinces because of this government’s indifferent attitude toward its people. I expect that, as a citizen who chose to make N.L. my home, this government will revisit their budget and roll back the suffocating taxes. I can assure you that I will try not to run away from my new N.L. home made by choice because of some non-friendly government at the helm of affairs, but will protest against this government in front of your office and as a last resort will approach Supreme Court for doctor-assisted death against your policies.
Hope God will give you some wisdom to understand the hardships of the common people, of which you probably are not aware.
Sandeep Jagota / St. John’s
Read The Independent’s ongoing coverage of austerity and the 2016 budget:
- A budget for the rich, by the rich (Opinion)
- Open letter to Premier, Cabinet Ministers & all MHAs (Letter)
- Solidarity and paying my dues (Opinion)
- Austerity hurts women, so we must shape our response accordingly (Opinion)
- Residents take anti-austerity fight to streets of St. John’s (News)
- Liberals’ austerity budget will hit most vulnerable hardest (News)
- Budget 2016 provides little hope for the future (Letter)
- Budget 2016 “an attack on families” (Letter)
- Government “definitely does have a choice” in NL Budget 2016: economist (News)
- As the wave breaks: NL budget 2016 (Opinion)
- Is there a democratic alternative to austerity? (Opinion)
- Deficit crisis a chance for change (Opinion)
- Not “Our” Crisis (Opinion)