Public Affairs Update Header
December 2, 2013
In This Issue
B.C. on track to balance 2014 budget
BC Chamber welcomes 10-year BC Hydro rate plan
B.C. and China endorse partnerships
The Public Affairs Update is your weekly insight, perspective and analysis on politics in British Columbia and Canada.  This newsletter is brought to you by the largest, and most broadly-based business organization in the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce – the Voice of Business in B.C.

B.C. on track to balance 2014 budget
Last week, Minister of Finance Michael de Jong announced that B.C. remains on target to balance the 2013-2014 Budget, with a projected year-end surplus of $165 million. This is up by $20 million since the First Quarterly Report.Minister de Jong also released the following:

  • with respect to revenue, the 2013-2014 forecast is projected to be $44.3 million, $15 million lower than the First Quarterly Report projection;
  • the government’s taxpayer-supported debt-to-GDP ratio is forecast to be 18.5 per cent, 0.2 percentage points lower than the revised first quarter projection; and
  • the province’s real GDP is forecast to grow by 1.4 per cent in 2013 and 2.2 per cent in 2014, unchanged from the June Budget Update.

BC Chamber welcomes 10-year BC Hydro rate plan
The BC Chamber has welcomed the B.C. government’s efforts to minimize impacts to businesses from BC Hydro rate hikes through a just-announced 10-year plan of predictable increases.In a media release, the BC Chamber recognized the significant challenge of B.C.’s aging infrastructure and supports investments in this critical arena.“With B.C.’s aging infrastructure, we recognize that BC Hydro rate increases can’t be avoided,” said BC Chamber president and CEO John Winter. “The challenge is to minimize negative impacts to businesses and residents – and we feel this plan strives hard to achieve that.”Winter noted that electricity is a big issue for businesses.“In some industries, such as pulp and paper and mining, electricity is a major input cost to businesses,” he said. “A significant electricity rate hike could devastate many B.C. businesses.”Winter commended government for listening to businesses’ concerns about potential rate shocks and producing a plan that creates flatter, more predictable increases.“The rate increases in this plan will still create challenges for B.C. businesses, but we appreciate that, in the face of a significant infrastructure challenge, the government has worked hard to mitigate impacts on businesses and consumers.”

B.C. and China endorse partnerships
Over the course of Premier Christy Clark’s jobs and trade mission in Asia, a number of agreementsand initiatives have been signed or initiated to date. Highlights include:

  • Minister of International Trade Teresa Wat signed an agreement between the ministry and the Sichuan Department of Commerce to further enhance economic relations and explore areas of future cooperation;
  • Minister Wat also signed an agreement between the ministry and the Chongqing Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Commission (COFTEC). This agreement promotes trade and investment links between the two jurisdictions; and
  • Premier Clark also announced that the province will host another international conference on BC’s emerging LNG industry in 2014.
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This weekly report produced for the BC Chamber of Commerce by Fleishman-Hillard.  While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information included in this publication as of the date of issue, events and government policies are subject to frequent change.  Therefore, the BC Chamber of Commerce and Fleishman-Hillard cannot assume any responsibility for actions taken solely or principally on the basis on the information contained herein.