George Sweeney, Opposition Government Services Critic and MHA for the
District of Carbonear - Harbour Grace, says government has the ability to
take immediate action to deal with high gas prices by lowering the taxes
paid by consumers.
"This government has the financial flexibility to give
the consumers of this province a break and they could lower the tax they get
from gasoline relatively easy if they wanted to do so," said Sweeney. "The
taxes paid on gasoline by consumers in this province are providing a
windfall profit to government.
"The Minister of Finance has tried to complicate the matter by saying
that changing the HST would mean involving the other Atlantic provinces
because of a tax agreement they have with those other provinces. The
Minister knows he is able to reduce the excise tax on gas without impacting
any other province, but he refuses to give up the lucrative windfalls he has
experienced since gas prices have gone up."
The Liberal Critic says the increasing gas prices have reached a point
where they are not only a problem for consumers but are also hampering the
provincial economy. "The government should realize these high prices are
really having a devastating impact, especially in rural areas of the
province. The price of food and other supplies will continue to increase as
the cost to transport goods puts a strain on local businesses."
Another affected sector of the economy will be tourism related
industries. "Visitors and local residents will limit their travel to many
areas of our province because of the high gas prices. If the government does
not act soon while people are making their travel plans, I believe we will
see a negative impact on local businesses and a reduction in the amount of
"I will continue to raise this issue until the Minister of Government
Services and Minister of Finance deal with prohibitively high gas prices.
Government has a role to play in regulating the price of gasoline paid by
consumers in this province and action must be taken."