Message from the Minister and
As Minister, I am pleased to report on the first year of the Ministry of Small Business and Revenue.
Established in June 2005, under the leadership of Premier Gordon Campbell, the ministry is committed to supporting small business and becoming a centre of excellence for tax administration and revenue management. The ministry's overarching goal is to provide British Columbians with the highest level of customer service. These priorities will help government achieve its goal to create more jobs per capita than anywhere else in Canada.
Working in partnership with industry, the ministry's committed staff have made great progress over the last year. In October 2005, we established the permanent Small Business Roundtable. Composed of 24 members who are leaders in the small business community and chaired by me, the roundtable held 14 meetings by the end of March, in communities from Fort St. John to Abbotsford. We heard directly from small business owners about their priorities, ideas and solutions, with excellent participation and many interesting ideas brought forward. I am confident, by working in partnership with small business, we will achieve our goal of becoming the most small business-friendly jurisdiction in Canada.
Last fall, we also launched the Provincial Sales Tax Review, to consult interested British Columbians on revenue-neutral options to streamline, simplify and enhance the fairness of the administration of this tax. By March, we had heard from more than 100 small business representatives at 15 consultations. Working with the Ministry of Finance, we will review these submissions, analyze the findings and recommend changes for inclusion in Budget 2007.
Another October milestone involved adding specific, measurable service excellence standards to our innovative Taxpayer Fairness and Service Code. For example, our goal is to respond to any correspondence sent to me, as Minister, within 14 days of receipt. This is another way we are demonstrating our commitment to customer service.
As Minister Responsible for Regulatory Reform, I am government's lead on the development of a modernized regulatory system while continuing to reduce red tape in British Columbia. Our goal is to make it easier for individuals and industry to operate, so they can spend more time growing their businesses.
The 2005/06 Ministry of Small Business and Revenue Annual Service Plan Report compares the actual results to the expected results identified in the ministry's 2005/06 – 2007/08 Service Plan Update. I am accountable for those results as reported.
Additionally, under the Balanced Budget and Ministerial Accountability Act, I am accountable for earning $225.6 million in incremental revenue in respect of revenues payable under enactments administered by the Minister of Small Business and Revenue. For the year ended March 31, 2006, I can confirm $310.5 million in incremental revenue.
Reaching these and other goals in our agenda would not be possible without the commitment and dedication of the staff of the Ministry of Small Business and Revenue. On behalf of all British Columbians, I thank them for all their hard work over the past year.
It is a great time to be in British Columbia. Our economy is 'firing on all cylinders'. Our economic growth rate is among the highest in Canada. Our annual unemployment rate in 2005 was the lowest it has been in over 30 years, and our strong labour income growth is supporting consumer spending and residential construction growth.
The ministry will continue to pursue its goals and create new opportunities for British Columbians in this, the best place on earth to live, work, invest and raise a family.
Honourable Rick Thorpe
Minister of Small Business and Revenue
and Minister Responsible for Regulatory Reform
June 30, 2006