CCI gets stuck in over surplus

THE WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry claims the state government is missing a chance for long-overdue tax relief in spite of excessive revenue flows, which are pushing it to another record budget surplus. In its response to an interim report on the State Tax Review, undertaken for the government by the Department of Treasury and Finance, CCIWA said the situation was made worse by the fact the surplus would have been greater still but for runaway over-spending by the government through what it called the lack of a disciplined budgetary process. The WA budget surplus could be as much as seven times that expected for Victoria this year and 25 times the $91 million surplus forecast on Friday for South Australia. CCI said the tax review report was disappointing in that it lacked vision and intent, and did not demonstrate any commitment to reform. CCIWA chief executive John Langoulant said the report did not reflect the strong views about the need for tax relief that were conveyed to the tax review by the reference group of business organisations and stakeholders. “Our scepticism about this review is being borne out,” Mr Langoulant said in a statement. “It is giving the government an excuse to do nothing about taxes until the next election is in sight, which is exactly what we feared. “However, the government has such an embarrassment of riches this year, as a result of its high tax levels at a time of spectacular economic growth, that I don’t think it will be able to get away with that without attracting some adverse electoral odium. “Everyone, including the government, knows what the big issues are – they are payroll tax and the stamp duties on property and cars – and the announcement of this huge surplus needs to be followed pretty quickly by some meaningful taxation relief.” CCIWA said that, even using the government’s own measure, the tax take as a percentage of gross state product had increased by more than 15 per cent, when the average of the other states over the same period had fallen 3 per cent.

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