PHOTOS: NDP announces Bright Futures Fund
The NDP believes a massive savings account will help it win back power in the 2011 provincial election.
At an event at one of its campaign headquarters in Regina Tuesday, the party outlined further details of what it calls the, "Bright Futures Fund." The party had revealed the general idea in the run-up to the campaign but now leader Dwain Lingenfelter is going into more detail about what it would entail.
"Having a savings plan for the future is pretty important in families and also in government," Lingenfelter told reporters and supporters at the campaign building he shares with fellow NDP incumbent Kevin Yates.
The Bright Futures Fund would be passed as legislation should the NDP be elected. It would require the government to put at least $100 million every single year into a savings account. The principle investments would be inaccessible to the government for 20 years, though the dividends (the party estimates a four per cent return) could be put towards capital projects once 10 years has expired.
He says the plan would contrast with the "rainy day fund" the current government operates in a very fundamental way.
"The money can be drawn out for any reason at the current time," he stresses, noting the Saskatchewan Party has used that fund to cover budget shortfalls and to pay for emergencies like this summer's flooding.
"That's millions of dollars used at a time when the economy of Saskatchewan is stronger than ever before. So this hasn't proven to be a very good savings plan when you use it up."
Lingenfelter concedes that the province can fall on hard times every now and then but he feels that wouldn't prevent them from finding the $100 million each year.
"Experts are telling (us) there's lots of room with record profits, record prices from the potash resource that we should be able to get some of that upside," he explains, referencing his party's commitment to conduct a full review of potash royalty rates should the NDP be elected. He reaffirmed that intention Monday, implying that an increased royalty rate would allow the government more revenue and more freedom to allocate the province's resources in a more equitable way.
Campaigning in Saskatoon, Premier Brad Wall admits the concept is a good one.
"It's something we've talked about in the past but we would want to pay off the debt first," he explains , noting the province has paid down $3 billion of general revenue debt down and that process will continue if they're voted back into government.
He also remains critical of the idea of a potash royalty review. He says the NDP hasn't been consistent on their plans and he says the party is being irresponsible by using the theoretically higher return on potash royalties when costing their election platform.
The NDP hasn't actually released a fully-costed platform yet but Lingenfelter insists that will be put forward in the coming days.
Edited by News talk Radio's Chris Morin.