10/03/2013 10:44 EDT | Updated 12/03/2013 05:12 EST

NDP, Tories attack Liberal economic plan in last days of Nova Scotia election

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's NDP and Progressive Conservatives were squarely focused Thursday on the Liberals as the provincial election campaign entered its final days before Tuesday's vote.

Both party leaders took aim at the Liberal plan for jobs and the economy during their campaign events.

Premier Darrell Dexter used the backdrop of a noisy downtown construction site as evidence of his government's record in attracting business, while firing a volley at Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil.

"Almost everywhere you look in Halifax you see building cranes and the reason for that is because Nova Scotia has become a place for people to invest," said Dexter.

McNeil has been critical of what he says are corporate giveaways by the NDP, particularly its $260-million forgivable loan to the Irving Shipyard in Halifax to help it prepare for the $25-billion federal shipbuilding contract.

The Liberal leader has promised to do away with forgivable loans and says the province should be the lender of last resort.

But Dexter said the competitive global economy means Nova Scotia has to fight to attract business and that's what his government has done through its incentive programs. He said without the programs, businesses wouldn't have come to the province.

Dexter also took a jab at McNeil's decision Thursday to visit two companies that have received government funding.

"I think it's ironic that Mr. McNeil is at LED Roadway Lighting and at Scotsburn (Dairy) — both companies where incentives and government assistance have been used to create good jobs for this province."

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie also trained his sights on the Liberals, saying that party won't offer taxpayers immediate relief from the 15 per cent harmonized sales tax because its promise to bring down the tax is contingent on balancing the books — something the Liberals have not committed to.

Baillie is promising to cut the HST by two percentage points while balancing the budget in the four years of a Tory mandate. He said the Tories would also improve the business climate by removing the small business tax.

McNeil dismissed attacks from the NDP that he won't fight for jobs and from the Tories that he's committed to taxes and job losses as signs his opponents are running out of ideas.

"You can argue my public policy positions and that's fair game, but I think anyone running for public office is trying to do the best they can for the province," said McNeil.

McNeil said he's been clear that when it comes to government loans to business the money should be paid back.

He said he's been equally clear that he won't commit to cutting the HST until he knows he can balance the budget.

"I will not say things were worse than we thought so we can't do this," McNeil said of the tax cut.