VICTORIA – British Columbia continues to face challenging global
economic conditions, but fiscal prudence and a focus on a competitive
economy that creates jobs and attracts international investment will
help B.C. manage these risks, Finance Minister Kevin Falcon said in a
speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade on Monday.

In his address, Falcon reviewed the state of the 2011 provincial
economy, the outlook for the coming year and discussed the importance
of making British Columbia more competitive for job-creating
businesses.

As part of ‘Canada Starts Here: the B.C. Jobs Plan’, the minister also
announced the government has appointed an Expert Panel on Tax to
provide analysis and recommendations to the Province on business tax
competitiveness and administrative improvements to streamline the
Provincial Sales Tax.

The panel will have the following members:

* Chair: Sarah Morgan-Silvester – chancellor of the University of
British Columbia.
* Lindsay Hall – chief financial officer, Goldcorp.
* Laura Jones – senior vice-president research, Economics & Western
Canada, Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
* Elio Luongo – Canadian managing partner, KPMG and vice-president of
the Vancouver Board of Trade.
* Fiona Macfarlane – managing partner, Western Canada and chief
inclusiveness officer, Ernst & Young LLP
* Grace Wong – senior advisor international, office of the provost and
vice-president academic, University of British Columbia and former
assistant dean international, Sauder school of business.
* (Adjunct Member) Dale Wall – former deputy minister, Ministry of
Community and Rural Development, Province of British Columbia.

The expert panel will consider the competitiveness of British
Columbia’s tax environment for business and develop recommendations
about which taxes most influence competitiveness and economic growth.
It will also identify and develop recommendations for ways in which the
Government of British Columbia could address tax avoidance within the
business or personal taxation systems. A component of the review will
also look at municipal property taxation of business.

The panel’s recommendations must respect the Province’s balanced-budget
framework. The report will be submitted by Aug. 31, 2012.

Minister of Finance Kevin Falcon said, “We need to support a globally competitive,
diverse economy thatsupports jobs and innovation within the Province’s balanced
Budget framework. The expert panel is intended to identify other ways to
maintain and improve B.C.’s economic competitiveness, while respecting
the referendum result to return to the Provincial Sales Tax.”

“We will carefully consider all recommendations of the tax panel, while
delivering prudent fiscal management for British Columbia.”