Tag: Bethan

Tax changes antirich rhetoric have already inspired big fish to leave Manley

OTTAWA — A big Canadian player has quietly picked up his chips and is heading for the exit amid the tumult over the Trudeau government’s controversial tax proposals.A business owner has informed John Manley, the head of an organization representing Canada’s largest corporations, that he has moved billions of dollars outside the country since the Liberals formally proposed their tax changes in mid-July.The government’s proposals to eliminate several tax incentives have awakened a broad array of vocal opponents — from the small business community, to farmers, to tax planners, to professionals like doctors and lawyers. Some backbench Liberal MPs have also publicly expressed their concerns.In the background, the Liberals’ proposed tax reforms are also seen as a threat by a much-smaller, more-silent group of Canadians: wealthy leaders of big business.Manley, a former Liberal finance minister in the Chretien government, said the elements of the government’s plan to tighten rules on passive investment portfolios and the transfer of family businesses have created worries for some members of his organization, the Business Council of Canada.The financial concerns have been compounded by the government’s accompanying messages that Manley believes have “vilified” higher-income Canadians.Many of his members, he added, have been taken aback by rhetoric that they see as pitting the middle class against the wealthy.“I don’t get it at all — I thought that one of the successes of Prime Minister (Justin) Trudeau was that he was the unifier, he was bringing people together,” said Manley, who noted the broader economy would eventually feel the sting of losing too many big job creators.“There’s lots of journeymen hockey players in the NHL, but you still want to have some (Connor) McDavids and (Wayne) Gretzkys and people that are stars.”Manley pointed to one example where a successful business owner has decided to leave Canada with “billions of dollars.”On the advice of tax professionals, he said the individual decided to move the money primarily because of the impacts the reforms could have on his family through changes related to estate planning. Keeping the business in the family would result in a big tax hit.There’s a notion that other big players could soon head for the exits, Manley said.“You won’t know about it because they’re not going to buy ads or report it — they’ll just go.”Manley’s group is calling on the government to hold off on the proposed changes for now to allow for a broader review of the tax system that examines additional goals like making the entire structure less complex.Failing that, he would like to see the feds fix any unintended consequences from the current plan on the table.Finance Minister Bill Morneau first released the three-part tax reform plan in the middle of the summer.He argues that the tax system unfairly encourages wealthy Canadians to incorporate, so they can get a better tax rate than middle-income earners. The government insists the changes would level the playing field, although many disagree.The package includes restrictions on the ability of business owners to reduce their tax rate by sprinkling their income to family members in lower tax brackets, even if those family members do not contribute to the company.Morneau also proposed limits on the use of private corporations to make passive investments that are unrelated to the company. Another change would limit business owners’ ability to convert regular income of a corporation into capital gains, which are typically taxed at a lower rate.The government gave Canadians a 75-day consultation period, ending Oct. 2, to weigh in on the proposals. Morneau insists the government will listen to concerns before it tables legislation and that he expects some of the feedback will lead to changes.If the government’s proposals are introduced as is, University of Calgary tax expert Jack Mintz says there are plenty of options to get around the changes — and he warns they wouldn’t be good for Canada.The reforms are aimed at private Canadian corporations, so Mintz said owners could change their citizenship, or partner with a foreigner or a public corporation to avoid paying more. He said they could also strip some of their firm’s assets while leaving the company itself in Canada.For example, countries like the United Kingdom offer attractive tax incentives for business people looking to move to its shores from abroad, Mintz said.Since Morneau’s tax announcement, Mintz said he knows one big business owner who has taken action and another who is considering it.In these scenarios, he said Canada could not only lose tax revenue but the business leaders themselves, who create jobs and play constructive roles in their communities.“It’s a major blow to the country in a number of ways,” Mintz said.The president of a national small- and medium-sized business federation, which has been one of the most outspoken critics of the tax proposals, said many of his members have been receiving calls from business development organizations in the United States to offer them incentives to move across the border.“There’s all sorts of business immigration programs that are out there encouraging entrepreneurs to pick up and leave,” said Dan Kelly of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.“Canada has to watch out because business owners in lots of areas can be quite mobile.”Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter read more

In final report Annan hails UN mission in Guatemala as model of

Current and future United Nations operations can take away valuable lessons from the world body’s recently-closed mission in Guatemala, which stands as a successful example of multidimensional peacebuilding, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in his wrap-up report on the mission’s work.The UN Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA) officially closed shop at the end of December, after 10 years of verifying human rights and helping the country implement its far-reaching peace accords. The accords, signed in 1996, ended 36 years of conflict that killed an estimated 200,000 people, most of them civilian victims of massacres, and the majority Mayan indigenous villagers.In his end-of-mission report to the General Assembly, Mr. Annan hails the operation’s accomplishments as a model to be emulated elsewhere. He summarizes the Mission’s work on each of the agreements and outlines its two-year transition programme designed to ensure continuity in the peace process beyond the end of the mandate.Mr. Annan chronicles the evolution of MINUGUA – which faced “tough criticism” from some conservative elements early on – through the decade, spanning four government administrations, and over a vast subject area contained in the accords. The accords attempted not only to end the conflict and disarm the parties, but to address the root causes of the war through long-range public policies on human rights, justice reform, demilitarization, the fight against racial discrimination and against poverty.“Perhaps the most difficult challenge for MINUGUA was to operate in the complex multi-ethnic, multicultural and multilingual environment of Guatemala, with its deeply entrenched racism and abandonment of the nearly two dozen Mayan, Xinca and Garifuna indigenous communities that comprise at least half the population,” Mr. Annan says, adding that the Mission made use of national indigenous staff and translators able to explain the peace accords and the mandate.Although the Mission verified continuing abuses during that first period, some very serious, its presence generally had a dissuasive effect, contributing to a steady decline in violations from the time of its arrival through a ceasefire and the final signing of the peace agreement. According to the report, human rights activists and members of rural communities who had been targeted during the conflict saw the Mission as a source of protection.The signing of the Agreement on Firm and Lasting Peace on 29 December 1996 marked the end of 36 years of conflict and signalled a new phase in the life of MINUGUA. Its mandate expanded beyond human rights to the verification of a wide-ranging package of accords designed to overcome the economic, social, political and cultural root causes of conflict. MINUGUA also expanded and broadened its expertise, adding specialists in indigenous affairs, macroeconomic and fiscal policy, labour issues, land rights and agrarian policy, military and public security reform, and gender issues, among others.The Mission dedicated its final year to ensuring that peace priorities were reflected in the policies of the new administration, while continuing, through its transition strategy, to build national capacities to promote and monitor peace accords implementation after its departure.The centrepiece of the transition effort during the final year was the National Transition Volunteers Programme, through which 60 young Guatemalan professionals received special on-the-job training within MINUGUA as verifiers and promoters of the peace accords. “That was one of the most successful initiatives undertaken by MINUGUA which could potentially be replicated in other missions,” Mr. Annan says.Also during the final period, each MINUGUA field office prepared an in-depth analysis of the state of peace implementation in its respective region, for use by newly elected authorities, civil society counterparts and regional staff of international cooperation agencies.Finally, Mr. Annan notes that MINUGUA’s closing marks not only a milestone for Guatemala, but also ends a long chapter of UN involvement in Central America, where it also helped Nicaragua and El Salvador emerge from civil wars, and adds: “With the end of international verification, the Guatemalan peace process has matured into a new and important phase in which national actors area assuming fuller responsibility for monitoring and promoting the goals of the peace accords.” read more