The following editorial in support of retaining the HST was written by Greg Munden, president of Munden Ventures, Ltd. in Kamloops and second vice-chair of the BC Trucking Association’s (BCTA’s) Board of Directors.
What I Think of the HST
I haven’t been paying much attention to the debate about the HST – mostly because I didn’t think that it was at risk. Even after the referendum was announced, I didn’t think that a vote was going to change anything. But, it seems that the threat to the HST is real and I should explain why I’m going to vote to keep the HST during the HST Referendum in June.
I am not a corporate big-wig. I own a third generation, family-owned trucking company in Kamloops that was built from the ground up by my grandparents and parents. Today, I run the company with my two brothers and our wives. I don’t make millions of dollars, but our family business provides employment to 35 staff. They have families to support, so the long-term success of our business affects a lot of people.
The HST has meant that my company could aggressively invest in new trucks. We have recently spent more money and bought more trucks than if the HST weren’t in place, because we’re able to claim input tax credits for the HST we pay for business-related expenses – including when we replace older, less efficient equipment. That means that our employees – I’m calling them employees, but they’re really our friends – can operate newer, trouble-free equipment with more safety features. Newer tractors are also more environmentally friendly because they create far less pollution than older models. They are more reliable and require less maintenance, which means that our customers have all-around better service.
The trucking industry is feeling a lot of pressure in terms of fuel prices and other business costs but, in the long-run, the HST will mean that we won’t have to raise our rates as much in the future in order to make a profit and keep our business healthy. It’s always a balancing act, and the HST has made this easier.
I know that the HST isn’t good for everybody. One of my good friends owns a fast-food business in Kamloops and his business is suffering. I really feel for him and I don’t like having to pay the HST on restaurant bills either.
But I believe that, on balance, having the HST is better than going back to the PST and having a dual tax system. I’ve got to believe that the experience of my small business is being repeated across the province, but those business owners aren’t talking about it because it’s too controversial and it’s easier not to.
The problem is, if we don’t talk about why we support the HST, it could very well be defeated during the referendum by people who think it doesn’t benefit anyone other than big business.
To me, the HST isn’t just about big business. It’s also about small businesses like mine, and the families and communities we support.
Greg Munden is the President of Munden Ventures Ltd., a third-generation transportation business based in Kamloops, BC. The company operates a designated commercial vehicle inspection facility providing maintenance services and specializes in regional log hauling as well as Super B-train flat deck service between the Interior, Okanagan and Lower Mainland. Greg serves as second vice-chair of the BCTA Board of Directors and holds an MBA from Royal Roads University. Outside of work, Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and two children travelling, golfing, mountain-biking and running.
BCTA is the recognised voice of the provincial motor carrier industry, representing over 900 truck and bus fleets and over 250 suppliers to the industry. BCTA motor carrier members operate over 13,000 vehicles, employ 26,000 people, and generate over $2 billion in revenue annually in BC. In support of its benefits for our members, BCTA is in favour of retaining the HST system in BC and is a member of the Smart Tax Alliance.