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IA Neftegaz.RU Interviewed Minister of Alberta Economic Development, Mark Norris

IA Neftegaz.RU: We are very glad that you have found time to meet with us and to answer our questions. First of all we would like to greet you on behalf of Khanty-Mansiysk autonomous region and its Governor Mr. Philipenko personally. It's not a secret that Alberta and Khanty-Mansiysk are "twinnies" and they have much in common.

IA Neftegaz.RU: We are very glad that you have found time to meet with us and to answer our questions. First of all we would like to greet you on behalf of Khanty-Mansiysk autonomous region and its Governor Mr. Philipenko personally. It's not a secret that Alberta and Khanty-Mansiysk are "twinnies" and they have much in common. Mr. M. Norris: I am glad to see Russian journalists here. Alberta and Khanty-Mansiysk have really much in common: not only in nature, but also in economics and industry and so on.
So, we'll try to discuss the most interesting questions that might be useful for both regions. Our first question is: What method does the government of Alberta use to stimulate investments? What is the main appeal for foreign investments in the Alberta Province, in particular investment flows from Russia? Mr. M. Norris: The process of our government is very evident; in about 10 years ago they said: we don't want to have any deficit and we don't want to have any debt as a government and in order to do it we're going to stimulate business economy as much as we can and the way we would do that is low taxes. Low taxes are what people want. And as this program works they are not going to change it. We are going to have low taxes in Canada, we're going to have the best business environment and we won't change it as it works extremely lot. We help people when they go to my department to guarantee that the rules of the game won't change, your investment is safe, a lot of people are very concern about that, the government won't change these priorities and you will find low tax regime. What about tax policy? How does it work?
Mr. M. Norris: The provincial sales tax is available to any problems to put on those, as you know 10 problems there's in Canada. We have abundance of resources and we extract most of our revenue from extraction and development of those resources.
And we thought that working people of Alberta would be further offered its generally 70 % in their pocket, which also has to stimulate the economy because the more money they can spend the more things they tend to buy and nobody has really a question of a wisdom sales tax and we may use it as a sales tool to go to Russia or Germany or anywhere and say on level playing field right of the back 70% we have more sales tax so people in Alberta are very proud of that. Alberta has GNP of about $150bln, oil and gas counts about $70bln of that so it is very, very significant. The next biggest industry is agriculture. Here for there's celebrate in Alberta. We have very strong forestry industry, very strong tourism, and very strong environmental industry as well. And those are the basic cores of our economy.
IA Neftegaz.RU: We know that about 70% of all people in Alberta are using Internet and not only for home purposes but also for business. Economic benefit we can get from e-commerce is self-evident. What are the potentials? Mr. M. Norris: Potentials aren't limited. Alberta government also launches an initiative core superhand and that's unique in Canada. I guess you have to extend Alberta, it's a very vast area and Edmonton and Calgary are two main centers but the world population is out of there and for them to have access to worldwide Web and the kind of information they need, we have examples of all the time the people are running home business through use of Internet. So the government we see not only as economic development but a world development initiative as well, they can stay at home and do this through Internet business. So we promote it as much as we can. Internet as we see is an access to information - #1. If you need to talk to farmer at Scotland you just sit and do it. Well it's an access to information and that's wonderful. As you see to make business e-commerce is very, very popular in Canada. The Internet is the alternative way to set e-business in Canada and a lot of people are using to do with business.
IA Neftegaz.RU: In the years 1992-93 the Alberta Province recorded a large budgetary deficit. However in the year 2000-2001 the budget has balanced - How can this be explained? Mr. M. Norris: Our Premier recognized that deficit on its basis was getting out of a hand and debt was partly up. So on yearly basis we have $3bln structural deficit by the time it took over $22bln in gap. So and they said to downsize the government, we have to get government out of business that shouldn't be end, the things the private enterprises can supply, they have to supply. So the government used to sell out all ineffective business as they've got big bureaucracy and big departments. So deficit was eliminated for three years. But then they began repairing their debt, they don't spend money they don't have, by the way low taxes policy and then we see people coming to Alberta. So we have more proper and personal taxes for growth. And it works extremely well. And we recorder in Alberta another $1bln surplus.
How is Alberta Province concerned with the growing number of small "jumpers" into Transnational Corporations in Alberta?
Mr. M. Norris: When the money comes and investment comes they come for reason. We are not over joy about it but we can't step down it and let just the market decide.
IA Neftegaz.RU: So you vote for globalization, don't you? Mr. M. Norris: I guess it; I'm voting for system that gets investments to province the best. If it's globalization, the term you use, why not? However the economy of Alberta is most agricultural and those people will never be merged into global business, farmers and forestry are local. The oil business is becoming globally.
IA Neftegaz.RU: Do you have any problems with antiglobalists?
Mr. M. Norris: You mean those who protest? No, I'm a huge believer of macrosy. And with macrosy you get people saying a number of different things. I don't think you can stop business growing and business grows very fast and there's nothing to do with globalization.
IA Neftegaz.RU: You have kids. Do you want them to be involved into policy?3
Mr. M. Norris: My daughter is 8 and my son is 6. They go to school, daughter is in the 3rd grade and son is in the 1rd. I think, politics to me is a great core, public services is a good thing to do. In Alberta we have a very good team. I see my kids are very quizzing about it and if they choose that I will support them a hundred per cent or if they want to be engineers or models or macros that's fine. It's not a matter of the question. My son is very interested in building things, structures. Daughter wants to be an actress.
IA Neftegaz.RU: Thank you very much for such an interesting talk. We hope that it is not our last meeting. Mr. M. Norris: Thank you. Welcome to Alberta!

Source : Neftegaz.RU