Da Legal Stuff...

All commentaries published on Web Talk are the opinions of the contributor(s) only and do not necessarily represent the position of any other individuals, groups or organizations.

Now, with that out of the way...Let's Web Talk.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Debt Reduction Petition

I'd like to take a moment to ask my readers to consider a petition put forward by some folks on the west coast. They believe the best way for then entire province, not just the Avalon area, to benefit from the Hebron development is to use a portion of future revenues to pay down our crushing provincial debt and free up funds now used to service interest obligations to our creditors.

I have placed a direct link to the petition at the top of our Web Talk links section (left side of this page) for anyone interested in supporting it.

A special thanks goes out to one of our readers, Glenn, for bringing this petition to my attention. I'm happy to support it I am also pleased to add my name to what I hope is a growing list of signatures.

The following article identifes some of the thinking the proponents have put into this campaign. I hope the authors of the following are not offended that I edited their words for length. If you would like to read the entire text (and the petition can also be accessed at their site) why not pay a visit to: http://portauxbasquesonline.ca/Forums/showthread.php?t=6451

Debt Reduction:

The Hebron oilfield MOU signed last week by Premier Danny Williams and the Hebron corporate consortium is arguably the most important fiscal understanding in the existence of NL to date as well as its future.

Based on earlier estimates and considering other known factors, Minister Kathy Dunderdale's predictions of 16 billion dollars in NL direct revenue may be a fairly good estimate.

If the whole of Newfoundland and Labrador is to benefit equally from the non-renewable resources this province has to offer, regardless of geographic proximity, there is only one common goal which equates us all, our provincial debt.

Currently at around 9.6 billion or so, we have the highest per person debt in the country and twice, yes that's 2 times or double that of the next worst province, our neighbours Nova Scotia.

Our debt is estimated to cost our treasury around 509,027,700 in servicing (interest) costs for fiscal year 2007-2008, that's half a billion dollars a year. In comparison, the 2007 provincial budget allotted just over 1 billion dollars for the whole education dept. in NL. That's the amount the province spends on anything and everything that you can think of when it comes to primary, secondary and post secondary education, student loans and anything to do with learning, even the libraries are under this department.

This debt we carry is the Albatross around the neck of NL. It is preventing industry from locating here since the debt a jurisdiction holds is a key measure they use when deciding where to go, especially when it means billions in capital investment which most of the future projects in NL require.

The Hebron deal gives us a chance to dream big, to set the big goal and to set a plan for the future, both short and long term. We need to look at the debt as a mortgage and the Hebron deal as a means to pay off our mortgage over a 25 year period so we are indeed, to coin a popularly used phrase, "masters of our own house."

As mentioned above, we are equally responsible for the debt we hold, just as we are equal owners of the resources of NL regardless of proximity. This is why I believe eliminating the debt is the fairest and most equal way for all Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans to share in the good fortunes of our non-renewable resources.

If we demand that our politicians legislate into law that 50% of all direct government revenue from the Hebron project goes against paying down the debt for the lifetime of the project, that's 8 billion of the 16 billion dollar figure estimated by government. Remember also that when this debt is paid off it frees up half a billion dollars a year to be spent on education, roads, healthcare, the environment etc. Every single year going forward after the debt is paid off.

There is an election coming up and this is as good a time as it's going to get to achieve something like this collectively, especially for those ridings off of the Avalon.

As a final note, I have used the phrase "direct revenues from Hebron to province" since the Hebron value to the province "indirectly" is roughly worth another 12-15 billion dollars. This revenue is in the form of personal income taxes those employed in the project will pay, wages the workers will make and spend here at home, the NL sales tax on all goods and services provided for the project as well as many other fees, provincial corporate and municipal taxes the project will pay out during its lifetime. That works out to 27 billion in direct net benefit to the province from Hebron alone.


touton said...

Thanks to the folks in Port aux Basque for taking this subject up and running with it.

It was debt that forced us into the commission of government and eventually into the clutches of the Canadian wolf.

It is also our debt that holds us back today, even with all the oil revenues we bring in.

The provincial government should make debt reduction a top priority so we can grow and, as the writer said, finally become masters of our own house.

touton said...

Great petition, I signed it and think it's a great way to safeguard our future.

On the lighter side, does everyone remember when Danny Williams was compared to Hugo Chavez in the national media? Maybe it should be the other way around.

It seems Hugo Chavez may end up being called Hugo Williams instead of the other way around.

Could it be that after the Hebron deal Chavez idolizes Williams?

Check out this news report:

Change comes rarely to time. Standard time -- our system of twenty-four time zones -- has become a fact. Like the stock market, lost in its ubiquity is the fact that it once didn't exist.

Last week, mercurial Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez turned a few heads when he announced that in September, the nation would turn its clocks back by half an hour, officially adopting Greenwich Mean Time minus 4.5 hours.

This is not the first time Chavez has done something critics have said is either eccentric or authoritarian. In recent memory he has asked to be allowed to rule by decree, asked to have the term limits for the presidency abolished, undercut the World Bank and IMF, become very popular with the poor in Venezuela, privatized many Venezuelan companies and called President Bush the devil. He seems to hang in the American imagination somewhere between Kim Jong Il and Che Guevara, depending on whom you ask.

But no one really seems to know what to make of the time change. Chavez, backed by his Science and Technology Minister, claims that the change will provide a more "fair distribution of the sunrise" especially for poor children, who have to get up early to go to school. He did not say why making school start half an hour later would have been more difficult than making the sun rise earlier.

This isn't about the poor. This is about making a break with the political and symbolic history of the international time system.

The international time system was created in 1884 because an explosion of transportation and communication technologies in the late nineteenth century made the lack of a coordinated time system an absolute disaster for the spread of the railroad and telegraph.

The movement had to be cooperative internationalist. It was not easy for France and Britain to agree on where the prime meridian would lie, but they, and other Western nations, saw it as a global necessity. At the time there was an enormous hope for the future of international travel and communication. Even so, it took decades for the standard time system to be adopted globally (Venezuela didn't officially take on GMT minus four hours until 1965).

So Chavez may not be that eccentric. The system into which he is throwing the wrench is profoundly internationalist, and he is profoundly nationalist. It was created primarily by, and in some sense for, Western nations (Japan was the primary non-Western nation represented) that were associated with colonialism and slavery, and Chavez is concerned about neocolonialism from the same nations. The system is meant to facilitate communication and transportation for travel and commerce, and he has privatized companies and isolated Venezuela, at least from many of those nations for which the system was originally created.

Consider the company he joins. Iran, Afghanistan, Burma and the Canadian province of Newfoundland are on the half hour. Nepal runs 5 hours and 45 minutes ahead of GMT. China is on the hour, but while it technically should span four time zones, the whole country runs on just one. With the exception of Newfoundland, which has a unique geographical position and history with its time zone, these are nations known for being isolated, particularly from the West; incurring sanctions from Western nations' having authoritarian leaders; and having isolated populations.

Time divorced from nature when the mechanical clock was invented. It became political when the prime meridian was established through the world's best observatory in Greenwich, England. Half an hour isn't going to untether Venezuela from the rest of the world. But it is symbolic statement and the polarizing leader of the nation knows what he is trying to say.

Ussr said...

Very worth while petition to sign.Im surprised at the lack of comments placed here Patriot.

None the less a great Article as always thuogh ,Myles.