George Sweeney, Opposition Critic for Government Services and MHA for the
District of Carbonear-Harbour Grace, calls today’s budget announcement of a
reduction or elimination of government fees a farce and a slap in the face
to average Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who have been gouged by
government the past two years.
"In its 2004 budget, this government introduced an
unprecedented tax grab to steal $26 million annually in new and increased
fees. Today, they announced relief in areas that will have minimal impact on
many of us. With a 119 per cent increase in offshore oil royalties, I am
certain most people were expecting a reduction in the cost of registering a
vehicle or obtaining a birth certificate or even a moose license. This is
hardly an equitable benefit for users of government services.
"If you take a closer look at these fee changes, it
becomes clear they are not big revenue generators or they are fees that were
redundant. As a matter of fact, over half of the so-called fee reductions
did not generate any revenue at all. There is simply no break for average
people and no opportunity to receive the benefits of our new-found wealth.
"People were hoping to see an enhanced home heat rebate
program, relief from skyrocketing gasoline prices, a break on insurance
taxes, licensing their vehicles or on any of the things that we have to
shell out everyday from our hard earned after-tax dollars.
"Quite simply, Danny Williams asked the public to support
him in the battle for better revenues from our oil resources and he has left