08/30/2011 07:38 EDT | Updated 10/30/2011 05:12 EDT

B.C. Finance Minister defends 18-month timeline to unwind HST

VICTORIA - B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon says he's going to Ottawa next month for face-to-face meetings with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to start unwinding the harmonized sales tax.

Falcon is defending his earlier forecast that it will take at least 18 months for British Columbia to return to the old provincial sales tax, even though the Opposition New Democrats and former premier Bill Vander Zalm are saying it shouldn't take that long.

British Columbians voted last week to dump the 12-per-cent HST in a referendum.

Falcon says it will take longer to bring back the PST than it did to introduce the HST because going back means having to take steps that have never been done before.

He says B.C. was following Ontario and the Maritime provinces when it introduced the HST in July 2009, but there is no template for a government to return to a provincial sales tax.

Falcon says the possibility of a B.C. election call will not halt the PST transition process once the federal and provincial bureaucrats have the go-ahead to start their work.