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HST impact—after the fact

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce is proactively gathering information about impact the HST referendum has had on its members, just in case.

“There’s no point picking apart the what ifs because (the referendum) is done. But going forward, if we’re given any opportunity for input, we’ll be there and ready with our members’ ideas,” said Caroline Grover, CEO of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber put the survey online on Aug. 31.

According to Grover, there were 44 respondents within the first two hours.

“Lots of people are sharing their gut reactions, feelings and frustrations,” said Grover.

“I’d love to give an answer in one sentence on their responses but I can’t because they’re so diverse.”

The brief HST impact survey asks what type of business the members belong to, the name of the business, the estimated short-term (six month) financial impact in dollars, consumer reactions and suggestions to the government.

Grover said that the majority stated they felt that their costs, with the loss of HST, will increase.

“Many said that they felt uncertain or they felt that there would be an increase to the costs of operating with regards to PST.”

According to Grover, a few—primarily in the service industry—were relieved to see the Harmonized Sales Tax go.

Despite the varying opinions on losing the HST, Grover said that all respondents had a common concern.

“One of the things that people said very clearly to us was that they (want) speed in putting a system back in place.”

Grover said that many have looked to the provincial government for information, but it is actually the federal government which first needs to put in legislation to enable the PST to occur again.

“The provincial and federal governments will be meeting very (soon) to look to do what they can to expedite it.”

The chamber has already taken member concerns to the Premier Christy Clark and jobs minister Pat Bell through the B.C. Chamber within days of the referendum results.

Grover felt that the survey will help gain concrete numbers and issues to reinforce concerns.

The Chamber’s next move is preparation. “We’ll be issuing a statement regarding (our next) steps going forward,” she said.

“The government will likely look for some input on the changes they want to implement and that’s an opportunity for us to report the thoughts and concerns of businesses.”

 

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