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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

It’s another -40 morning in Saskatchewan so I thought I would heat things up today by jumping back into the potash royalty controversy. I think one thing that is apparent as the Sask Party and NDP squabble with each other over who should have done what with potash royalties and taxes in the past, is that there needs to be another voice in this debate. I am including in my commentary this morning a news release and attachment which went out this morning to all the media outlets in the province. What the PC Party is attempting to do is to get the discussion going in a different direction by providing a mechanism for the public of Saskatchewan to have a regular review opportunity to see what the return is from their rich potash resource. I believe that if the mechanism we are proposing had already been in place, we would have not gone 17 years without an increase in potash royalties. There are some who will maintain that all of the various incentives needed to be put in place to maintain the viability of the industry. The very profitability of the industry over the last number of years takes away some of that argument. The fact that Saskatchewan could have a $1.9 billion shortfall in royalty income and at the same time, one company alone – PCS – could post a profit of over $800 million in the same year, says that something is out of whack. That same year, Saskatchewan ended up paying back tens of millions of dollars on royalty they had expected to receive and did not because of price adjustment. It is reasonable therefore, that no one should be afraid of opening the books up at least once every four years so that learned people appointed by the Legislative Assembly can take a look, report back to the public and still leave the decisions in the hand of the Saskatchewan Cabinet to make the final decision. At least the politicians will have to make that decision in the face of public scrutiny. We don’t know today if the decision by the potash companies to provide helicopters to the health system was because of their good hearts or because of what the Premier did in the BHP/PCS fiasco. We need to be making good government policy on good government decisions. I look forward to your comments on this week’s commentary and the process outlined.

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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

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