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Press release: 2004-2005 Séguin budget: the metropolis ignored!

Press release

2004-2005 Séguin budget: the metropolis ignored!

Montreal , March 30, 2004 – The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal is extremely disappointed to learn that, once again this year, the budget of the Quebec government does not recognize the vital importance of Montreal to the development of Quebec .

“We are particularly disappointed to see that in the priority areas of his new economic development strategy, Finance Minister Yves Séguin does not specifically recognize the indispensable role of the economic engine of Quebec . For us, such an orientation is surprising from a government that has just declared its commitment to ensuring that Quebec takes its place among the best and, in particular, to promoting a higher standard of living for Quebecers. Indeed, we have a hard time seeing how the government can pursue these important objectives without a clear development vision for Montreal , its primary lever for economic development,” declared Benoit Labonté, president of the Board of Trade.

“This budget unfortunately does nothing more than repeat the commitments – which were not respected – in last June's budget to consider ways to provide Quebec cities with new sources of higher, predictable, and recurring revenues. For the Board of Trade, this is very troubling: if the government constantly postpones its reflections on city funding, how long will we have to wait to see concrete means placed at their disposal so they can assume their growing responsibilities?” continued Labonté.

Moreover, the Board of Trade is concerned by the lack of measures to support exporters, even though the budget documents stress the decline – for the third consecutive year – in Quebec exports. Given that 57.5% of Quebec 's GDP comes from exports, inaction in this area seems to us all the more unjustifiable and worrisome.

The Board of Trade recognizes that Mr. Séguin's budget contains certain pan-Quebec measures that could potentially affect the metropolis. It is pleased, in particular, with decisions such as the larger education budgets – especially for universities – the increased support for cultural industries, the continuation of fiscal measures for research and development, and, finally, the new commitments for social housing. Moreover, the Board of Trade welcomes the increased number of companies exempted from paying tax on capital and will closely monitor the minister's promise to lower this tax for all companies – still a necessity - in the next budget.

“Nevertheless, these isolated measures do not in any way reflect a vision of the role played by metropolitan Montreal as Quebec 's primary centre of wealth creation. We believe that Quebec will never have another chance to create a true world-class metropolis, and major steps must still be taken to do so,” concluded Labonté.

The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has some 7,000 members. Its primary mission is to represent the interests of the business community of the Greater Montreal region and, as a contributing and responsible player, to promote the economic development of the urban area. Encompassing three specialized services (Info entreprises, the Electronic Commerce Institute and World Trade Centre Montréal) that serve merchants and businesses of all sizes throughout Quebec and Canada , the Board of Trade is Quebec 's leading private economic development organization.

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Sylvie Paquette
Coordinator, Media relations
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Tel.: (514) 871-4000, ext. 4015

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