Economic Development Minister Percy Paris touted the performance of the Industrial Expansion Fund yesterday, saying the province recoups $3 for every dollar invested.
But Opposition leader Stephen McNeil said that the numbers can’t be trusted.
The province released the IEF’s 2009-2010 numbers yesterday. According to the report, the fund, which loans money to 23 businesses for capital purchases, created 1,200 jobs and “maintained” 2,626 others, accounting for $113 million in wages and $13.4 million in provincial taxes.
“We maintain that if companies are maintaining production or increasing production, that’s good for all of us,” Paris said. “Because somewhere along the line, that’s going to mean more jobs for someone somewhere, and hopefully that will be Nova Scotia.”
But McNeil said those numbers are impossible to verify without more disclosure from the province.
“There’s been no proof, no documentation, no business case laid out,” he said.
“Nova Scotians do not know if they’re getting value for their money. If these businesses have a good case, then allow the public scrutiny.”
When asked if more transparency was required, Paris balked at the pure possibility of a “hoax.”
“I don’t think anyone in government is used to putting things in print that are falsehoods,” he said.