The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

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The business community applauds the government’s disciplined and responsible approach in the 2013-2014 budget, but questions the lack of focus on the province’s largest city

Montréal, November 20, 2012 – The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal welcomes the budget tabled today by Quebec’s Minister of Finance and the Economy, Nicolas Marceau. “We applaud the government’s firm commitment to maintaining a balanced budget as planned for 2013-2014, while encouraging private investment,” said Board of Trade President and CEO Michel Leblanc. “But we are disappointed that it has remained silent on Montréal’s strategic position in Quebec’s economic development.”

Staying the course for a balanced budget: a sound, responsible choice
The Board of Trade applauds the government’s firm intention to stay the course for a zero deficit beginning next year. “We are pleased to see that the government is favouring stricter rationalization and control of its spending,” Mr. Leblanc said. “This will create additional and necessary room to manoeuvre as our economy experiences positive growth in spite of a troubled world economic situation. The reduction in public debt as a percentage of GDP will maintain financial institution and investor confidence in our economy. We encourage the government to continue pursuing efficiency and productivity in its programs.”

Major base-building projects: we must not stand still
“We understand that major cost overruns are prompting the government to reduce infrastructure spending and prioritize certain projects,” Mr. Leblanc said. “While it is necessary and urgent to rationalize processes surrounding the management of major public infrastructure projects, the fact remains that these projects are essential to improving our productivity and prosperity. The government must promptly state its intentions for rationalizing spending on public infrastructure projects. It must keep major projects on schedule, as they are crucial for the fluid movement of people and merchandise in the city.”

A government prepared to support private investment
“We are pleased to see that this budget focuses on private investment and its base-building effect on the prosperity of Quebec,” Mr. Leblanc said. “We cannot ignore the need to make Quebec and Montréal attractive for foreign investment. The government has to ensure that the announced tax measures and the implementation of the Banque de développement du Québec make an effective contribution to maintaining head offices as well as to the appeal and development of entrepreneurial talent. It is important to ensure that the Banque de développement du Québec’s governance reflects the city’s dynamic and challenges.”

Uncertainty remains
“We understand the government’s eagerness to table its budget early,” Michel Leblanc said. “However, a number of decisions and initiatives are still up in the air and will be announced later, and this uncertainty is hampering investment decisions. We encourage the government to move quickly to clarify certain points, such as the framework of the mining royalties plan, its strategy for research and innovation, support to businesses on international markets and its immigration and related integration strategy. Advisory committees will be important for some of these issues, but we cannot drag our heels when it comes to taking action.”

No specific efforts for Montréal
“The budget does not indicate how the Government of Quebec intends to re-establish Montréal’s vitality as the economic driver of Quebec,” Michel Leblanc said. “Pauline Marois’ speech before the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal on November 9 reassured us as to this government’s vision about the city’s role in the economic development of Quebec and Montréal’s influence internationally. It is unfortunate that the budget does not include specific initiatives to make this vision a reality. Nicolas Marceau will have the opportunity to respond to the Montréal business community’s expectations during his speech before the Board of Trade on Friday, November 23.”

The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal is made up of some 7,000 members. Its mission is to represent the interests of the business community of Greater Montréal and to provide individuals, merchants, and local businesses of all sizes with a variety of specialized services to help them achieve their full potential in terms of innovation, productivity, and competitiveness. The Board of Trade is Quebec's leading private economic development organization.

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Sylvie Paquette
Advisor, Media Relations
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Phone: 514-871-4000, extension 4015

Twitter: @chambremontreal
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