The B.C. government will create a fund that will collect royalties from natural gas and apply them to pay off provincial debt, according to the throne speech on Tuesday.
Judith Guichon, B.C.'s lieutenant-governor, delivered the government's priorities for the last legislative session before May's provincial election.
The province will introduce a new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tax that could bring between $130 billion to $260 billion from five plants. The levy will "maximize the benefits to British Columbians while still remaining competitive," said the province in a news release.
The estimate includes revenues from royalties and income taxes from new jobs created by the industry.
The Prosperity Fund announced on Tuesday could collect over $100 billion over 30 years, starting in 2017. That could pay off the province's debts by 2027, said the province.
Read the full throne speech here.
From The Canadian Press:
Premier Christy Clark says she wants British Columbians to cash in on the trillion-dollar development potential of liquefied natural gas in the province.
In its throne speech today, the government announced a new B.C. Prosperity Fund that could accumulate between $100 billion and $260 billion in revenues from LNG royalties and business taxes over the next 30 years.
The Liberal government promised in its September 2011 jobs plan the development of three LNG plants in northwest B.C. by 2020, and that figure has since been upgraded to five plants.
The government says the main focus of the Prosperity Fund will be to reduce the provincial debt, currently at $56 billion, but it also suggests the fund could help eliminate the sales tax and invest in education and communities.
Recent estimates of the impact of LNG development in B.C.'s north includes the creation of 39,000 jobs over the nine-year construction period and 75,000 new full-time jobs if the five facilities reach full production.
The throne speech also says the Liberals will start work to create a school of traditional Chinese medicine at a B.C. post secondary institution.
Don't get excited. It's not imminent in Canada, or even in British Columbia. But the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/11/07/marijuana-legalization-bc-washington-pot_n_2088388.html">decision by Washington state voters to decriminalize the drug</a> is sure to stir debate north of the border. Perhaps activist <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/11/21/dana-larsen-bc-marijuana-petition-pot_n_2174174.html">Dana Larsen</a> will bring back his petition to relax enforcement of pot laws in B.C.
Legislature vs. Labour
A left-wing provincial government will mean labour peace with the unions, right? Don't be so sure. The B.C. Federation of Labour has thrown its <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/dix-and-labour-pledge-mutual-support/article5769522/">wholesale support behind the NDP</a> in the next election, the Globe and Mail reports, but that doesn't mean B.C. will be free of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/04/bc-university-cupe-strike-ubc-sfu-uvic-unbc-tru_n_1939864.html">public sector strikes</a>.
Site C Dam Protests
The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/12/12/northern-gateway-ubc-study_n_2282633.html">Northern Gateway</a> and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/ben-west/kinder-morgan-enbridge-trans-mountain-pipeline-oil_b_2229622.html">Kinder Morgan</a> pipelines will share the limelight with the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/03/site-c-dam-cost_n_1936911.html">Site C Dam</a>, a proposed third dam on B.C.'s Peace River that will enter an environmental assessment this year. It's expected to flood hundreds of hectares of land.
The Return Of The PST
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/08/26/hst-vote-bc_n_938296.html">Turfing HST</a> was the easy part. Re-educating an economy about the previous tax system will be a challenge. The <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/niels-veldhuis/bc-pst-hst-tax-reform_b_1970961.html">Provincial Sales Tax (PST) returns April 1, 2013</a>, and we can expect many stories of confusion at reverting to a system that levied taxes on tangible goods, with a cavalcade of random exemptions.
Christy Clark's Leadership
She's the articulate premier of a majority government in Canada's most beautiful province. So how does Christy Clark keep <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/11/14/carol-todd-amanda-todd-mother-anti-bullying-conference_n_2130424.html">attracting</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/01/christy-clark-alison-redford-northern-gateway_n_1928096.html">negative</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/16/christy-clark-bc-fall-session-evan-solomon-letter_n_1888773.html">attention</a>? Will she lead her party to victory in the May provincial election?
Vancouver Real Estate Recovery
No one can say for sure what will happen to Vancouver's real estate market, but the <a href="http://www.bcrea.bc.ca/news-and-publications/news-room/news-releases/housing-forecast-news-release">B.C. Real Estate Association</a> predicts growth in provincial home sales in 2013. Perhaps Vancouver will finally get over the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/17/vancouver-housing-bubble_n_1890553.html">shock of tightened mortgage rules</a>.
A New Police Force?
The report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry means that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/12/18/misisng-women-inquiry-metro-vancouver-police_n_2320517.html">police reform</a> must be on the agenda this year. But don't hold your breath for a new police force this year. The provincial government has signed a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/03/21/bc-rcmp-deal-contract-details_n_1371048.html">20-year agreement to keep the RCMP</a>.
A New Government?
Far be it from us to predict that the B.C. NDP will win the 2013 election, but the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/04/christy-clark-bc-liberals-ndp-poll_n_1853245.html">polls don't tell us much different</a>. However, far from an NDP majority, the Liberals are getting plenty of help from the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/11/23/bc-conservative-support-poll-liberals-ndp_n_2177760.html">B.C. Conservatives</a>.