CALGARY — Alberta’s premier says there will be no provincial sales tax as long as he’s in charge.
However, Ed Stelmach says there might be one 20 or 30 years down the road.
He says it’s an option being looked at by the Premier’s Council for Economic Strategy.
The group is examining ways for the province ride out the volatility from erratic oil and gas revenues.
Finance Minister Ted Morton agrees a PST isn’t on the immediate horizon.
But he’s also not ruling out the possibility the council could recommend the idea for another government in the future.
“The Premier’s Council on Economic Strategy is looking at those medium to long-term options and we’ll be making recommendations in the spring of next year,” said Morton.
The opposition parties have been quick to jump on the government for even considering the idea.
“I don’t think there’s an excuse for the province of Alberta to be running a deficit, and I also don’t think there’s any excuse to consider a sales tax in this province,” said NDP Leader Brian Mason.
“As for the issue of a sales tax, I think it is unequivocal, we do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem,” said Wildrose Alliance Leader Danielle Smith.
University of Calgary economist Frank Atkins says it would be impossible for Stelmach to bring in a sales tax right now.
“It’s a really tough sell now because we all know that the whole reason that sales tax talk is heating up now is because of the size of the deficit,” said Atkins. “This is the wrong time for sales-tax talk. This is the time for cutting-expenditure talk.”
Alberta is the only province without a provincial sales tax.