A boost for business is what the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce wants to see in the Liberal government’s green paper on taxation, which is being released Wednesday.

“What we want to see is initiatives that will increase our competitiveness as a province,” said Anthony Knight, CEO of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, on Monday.

“We really need to look at how the system is encouraging investment.”

Knight said that would include more resources through the tax system so companies can reinvest in research and development, technology and people.

“Right now, it’s not meeting the standard we would like to see,” he said.

Finance Minister Victor Boudreau published an opinion piece in The Daily Gleaner on Saturday, saying the green paper will lay out various taxation options which will allow people to pay less tax and make the system more competitive for business.

Boudreau didn’t say how he would lower personal income tax or make the business tax more competitive.

He said there would be an all-party committee formed a few weeks after the green paper is released. It will tour the province to hear what people have to say.

Boudreau also mentioned a carbon tax that would be phased in.

“There are a lot of different schemes that have been proposed,” Knight said. “We really need to look at the details and what that would mean for New Brunswick and what companies would be affected.”

The chamber encourages its member companies to be good environmental stewards and the government shouldn’t penalize companies that are adopting good practices, said Knight.

Boudreau doesn’t mention increasing the HST while lowering income taxes in his opinion piece, but he does talk about rebalancing the tax system.

Many economists advocate lowering income taxes while increasing consumption taxes such as the HST.

Knight said he wants more details.

“There are a lot of arguments in favour of higher consumption taxes and reducing income taxes,” he said. “We need to see the detail of what that means.”

He said the chamber supports the timing of the government’s tax review.

“We think it has been due for quite some time,” said Knight.

Boudreau didn’t mention the unconditional grant formula for municipalities in his comments Saturday.

The government has a second review underway about governance in the province.

Knight said any changes to the unconditional grant formula will probably have to wait until that review is complete.

“It is a bit of a moving target right now,” he said. “Right now, it does not appear that Fredericton is getting its fair share.”

Fredericton Coun. Dan Keenan, who was chairman of the city’s finance committee until the May election, agrees.

“Certainly we want to see the unconditional grant formula be reviewed,” he said Monday. “We are looking for a much fairer formula for Fredericton.”

Fredericton gets many millions of dollars less than Saint John and Moncton from the unconditional grant pool.

“We talked before about looking at things like the number of households in the community as opposed to the rather complex formula that is there now,” said Keenan. “We’ve provided some feedback through the process.

“We will respond accordingly to the discussion paper after we get a chance to review it.”

He said the city also wants the province to keep in mind that the property tax is the main way municipalities raise revenue.

Any new tax system must provide the revenue needed to allow municipalities to deliver required services, said Keenan. It also has to take into account that as a municipality grows there is an increased demand for services, he said.

Charles Cirtwill, executive vice-president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, said Monday he wants to see fundamental changes to the New Brunswick tax system and not just tinkering around the edges.

“What I mean by that is seriously shifting incomes taxes to consumption taxes,” he said. “Income taxes are essentially a tax on jobs.”

High income taxes discourage people from working, investing and opening new businesses, said Cirtwill. It’s better to have income tax as low as possible and consumption taxes making up the difference, he said.

If a person has the money to buy a $50,000 car, it’s going to cost that person more in HST than someone who buys a $25,000 car and it should, said Cirtwell.

Some observers believe increasing the HST isn’t politically attractive.

But Cirtwill said it could be done with proper protection for lower-income groups. If the government said to everyone making less than $20,000 you’re not going to pay income tax – that is going to make a lot of people happy, he said.