Government gathering budget input from Islanders

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CHARLOTTETOWN – If you have an opinion on how the province should spend its money, now is your chance to tell the man in charge of the provincial books.

The government is holding pre-budget consultations over the next few weeks in an effort to glean input from Islanders about how they would like to see the province’s finances managed.

“We want to make sure Islanders are still on track with what we’re doing fiscally, and that means, are we spending money properly? Are we bringing in revenues the way they would like to see it?” said Finance Minister Wes Sheridan.

“Do they feel there’s a way to reduce taxes or increase taxes and provide more services? What would they trade off if they had the option?”

This is the third year the finance department has held round-table discussions like the ones taking place across the province this month.

Sheridan said he does take to heart the information he receives and has used some of it to help shape policy, taxation and red tape reduction initiatives over the last few years.

“When we came forward with the three-year plan (to balance), that came straight out of budget consultations,” Sheridan said.

“They all said they wanted to see a balanced budget but not on the backs of 900 people going home.”

Two of the four roundtable sessions have already taken place, but two more remain on Feb. 12 in Alberton and Feb. 13 in Souris.

Written submissions can also be sent to Sheridan’s office by anyone, whether they belong to an organization or are just an individual with an interest and an opinion.

Sheridan says he especially enjoys the roundtable discussions, as they offer a unique opportunity for business groups, unions, community advocates and private citizens to come together to discuss and debate the financial interests of the province.

“These are times we have a real opportunity to listen to Islanders and what their thoughts are and you get some real good ideas as to how to do things a little bit differently,” Sheridan said.

Islanders can provide feedback for the 2014-15 budget by responding to an online questionnaire on the provincial government webpage at gov.pe.ca/budgetsubmissions.

Geographic location: Alberton, Souris

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