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No big hikes in taxes in new year: Selinger

AFTER imposing big tax hikes in 2012 and 2013 and paying a price for it in opinion polls, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger is indicating taxpayers will not take another hit in the coming year.

"We have no major tax increases planned for the budget," Selinger said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"We're still in the early days, the minister of finance will make recommendations, but nobody is looking toward a major tax increase this year as part of the plan for the budget."

The premier's wording appears to leave the door open to smaller tax hikes. The NDP government has regularly raised tobacco taxes on budget day and has raised the fuel tax and many user fees on occasion.

Selinger, who rejected the idea of a provincial sales tax increase during the 2011 election campaign as "ridiculous," has faced heavy criticism for boosting that tax along with others.

Prompted by a slower-than-expected economic recovery, the government expanded the PST in the 2012 budget to cover new items such as manicures, tattoos and many types of insurance.

The 2013 budget saw the government raise the overall provincial sales tax to eight per cent from seven. It also suspended a section of the balanced-budget law that required a referendum before any sales tax increase.

Since then, opinion polls have suggested the NDP has dropped to its lowest level of support since sweeping to power in 1999 and is now well back of the Opposition Progressive Conservatives.

The government initially said the money was needed for infrastructure projects, front-line services, new schools and other items, but changed its messaging this fall to say the money would go only to core infrastructure such as highways and bridges.


-- The Canadian Press

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