Nova Scotia’s political parties argued yesterday over their three distinct plans to kick start job creation.

Premier Rodney MacDonald began his day at Ledwidge Lumber in Enfield to promote the oft-criticized Industrial Expansion Fund. Ledwidge went through the IEF to sell a parcel of land for $1.2 million in bridge financing.

“It’s important because what it does is it allows flexibility for us to deal with business,” MacDonald said.

 

“You need that flexibility. You need those opportunities because every company is different.”

MacDonald wants to pair the IEF and over several years cut the small business tax of five per cent in half. The Liberals are taking that plan a step further, vowing to reduce the tax fully to one per cent.

That would cost roughly $30 million, which would come directly out of the IEF. Both opposition parties have repeatedly condemned the IEF for a lack of oversight, saying it’s a way for politicians to give money to whomever they please.

“It picks winners and losers. In our view it doesn’t treat all businesses equally,” said Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil. “What we’re saying to the business community is … we’re going to invest in each of you. We’re going to allow you to keep those tax dollars to re-invest and keep those jobs.”

The cut would apply to the first $400,000 of earnings, then revert back to the normal tax rate.
Both the NDP and Liberals want to reduce and alter the IEF. They say Nova Scotia Business Inc. is a better way to get money out the door.

But the NDP has its own plan for where the money should go instead. NDP Leader Darrell Dexter wants to set up a manufacturing and processing tax credit to give all businesses financial incentive to expand.

He said he’s not opposed to lowering the small business tax but for now the tax credit makes more sense because it would create about 2,200 jobs.

“If you’re not investing then you’re doing. We’re finding a way to support the private sector decision to invest in new technology, in new productivity measures,” he said.