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CTA gives thumbs up to federal finance plan

OTTAWA, Ont. The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is commending the federal government for its Advantage Canada...

OTTAWA, Ont. The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is commending the federal government for its Advantage Canada financial plan.

The plan, introduced by federal Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, contains several tidbits borrowed from the CTAs own recommendations, says CTA chief David Bradley.

I have never been one to suggest we should settle for a level playing field, says Bradley. I believe that in order to enable its industries to fully compete in a global economy and in turn to create economic growth and prosperity for all Canadians, our governments need to help build and foster competitive advantages for industries, including trucking, in areas such as taxation, infrastructure and regulation.

Details within the plan suggest the Conservatives will: Reduce the general corporate income tax to 18.5% by 2011; Investigate whether capital cost allowance (CCA) rates align with the useful life of assets and explore other opportunities to improve competitiveness, encourage investment and promote the neutrality of the tax system; Consider opportunities to reduce tax distortions in areas where the tax system favours or impedes particular sectors and business structures or size; and encourage provinces to eliminate their capital taxes and harmonize retail sales taxes with the GST, or to adopt value-added taxes.

Another CTA pre-budget submission receiving consideration is the acceleration of CCA rates for tractors to bring them in line with US rates. However, Bradley expressed concern the feds may not agree with CTA on what the economic life of a truck should be.

We may view the life of a highway tractor as much shorter than some in government and that can have a major impact on whether you believe the current CCA rates are appropriate or not, Bradley said. There can be no doubt that the US regime is much more conducive to more rapid fleet turnover than Canadas.

The finance ministers plan contained no word on whether the CTA will get its wish and see the allowable tax deduction limit for truck drivers raised to 80%.

When it comes to infrastructure, the feds plan to: provide long-term, predictable funding; offer a fair and transparent provincial allocation for a program envelope to support improvements to the highway system; and establish national merit-based infrastructure funding for P3s and border crossings. Those commitments also were greeted warmly by the CTA which has long supported strategic investments into the national highway system with special focus on key interprovincial and international trade corridors.

We have always said we want more federal investment in our highways at levels that are sufficient to leverage provincial and private investment; but we have also said that investment in highways needs to be strategic so we get the biggest bang for the buck, says Bradley.

The Advantage Canada document says the Windsor border crossing will be a priority with a new crossing in place by no later than 2013.

I have been one of those people who has been saying that the way things have gone in recent years, I would not be surprised if we did not see a new border crossing in Windsor for 30 years, says Bradley. I hope I am proven wrong, as this plan is very encouraging.

The CTA is further encouraged by the finance ministers commitment to harmonize interprovincial and US/Canada trade and business regulations. The plan outlines a Global Commerce Strategy that promises: Improved border efficiency; to pursue more regional and bilateral trade; concluding negotiations to update the Canada/US Tax Treaty.

This is sensible, responds Bradley. Trade with the US will continue to be the key to Canadian economic success and the Security and Prosperity Partnership agenda needs a shot in the arm. I also hope that third tier state taxes, like franchise taxes, which are presently inconsistent with the tax treaty and international tax norms can be addressed.

Despite the optimism, Bradley said the plan is not yet written in stone and he anxiously awaits action, starting with the 2007 budget.

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