Liberals want audit of business attraction fund 'failures'

Liberal industry critic Jim Bennett is calling for a full value-for-money audit on the province’s business attraction programs.

“It’s time for government to admit its failures, stop the financial bleeding, and break new ground in attracting more business throughout the province,” Bennett said in a statement.

“This is even more critical given our current unsustainable spending and revenue stream.”

Bennett was reacting to a story broken by CBC News earlier this week.

A numbered company also known as ICUS ceased operations this summer and is now in receivership.

ICUS got $500,000 from the controversial business attraction fund two years ago.

The province doesn’t know whether it will get back the cash.

Bennett charged that there have been a litany of failures linked to the business attraction fund.

He noted that the government has spent tens of millions on overall business attraction efforts since 2003, with little success.

“It is an absolute scandal on top of all the other waste government has indulged in on the backs of taxpayers,” Bennett said.

The Progressive Conservatives made business attraction a key focus when they took office in 2003, setting up a separate department dedicated to the initiative.

But a CBC News investigation earlier this year found spending of tens of millions on initiatives that resulted in a net gain of just dozens of jobs.

Three of the eight companies that received cash from the province’s flagship business attraction fund as of mid-2012 have now closed their doors.

In response to a CBC News access to information request earlier this year, the government could find no record of ever having done a value-for-money audit on its business attraction programs.

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