This is page numbers 909 - 930 of the Hansard for the 12th Assembly, 5th Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was chairman.

Topics

Bill 10: An Act To Repeal The Metric Conversion Act
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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An Hon. Member

(Microphone turned off)

Bill 10: An Act To Repeal The Metric Conversion Act
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Jim Antoine Nahendeh

So I just wanted to make that point because -- and for one mile it was ??dechi, but we had our own way. Now, with metric, it is not the same, so it hasn't really adjusted. So we are going to have to figure out a new way of measuring distances in metric. I just wanted to make that comment.

Clause By Clause

Bill 10: An Act To Repeal The Metric Conversion Act
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Antoine. They are very interesting points raised. Any further comments? Clause by clause. Clause 1.

Bill 10: An Act To Repeal The Metric Conversion Act
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

---Agreed

Bill 10: An Act To Repeal The Metric Conversion Act
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Tony Whitford

Bill as a whole.

Bill 10: An Act To Repeal The Metric Conversion Act
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

---Agreed

Bill 10: An Act To Repeal The Metric Conversion Act
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Tony Whitford

Does the committee agree that Bill 10 is now ready for third reading?

Bill 10: An Act To Repeal The Metric Conversion Act
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

---Agreed

Bill 10: An Act To Repeal The Metric Conversion Act
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Tony Whitford

Bill 10 is now ready for third reading. I would like to thank the Minister for his assistance in the matter.

I think we can now move to Bill 18, located under tab 18. Bill 18 is the Write-Off of Debts Act, 1993-94. Bill 18 located under tab 18 of the green book. Thank you. We ask the Minister responsible for the bill to introduce the bill to the committee. The chair recognizes Mr. Pollard.

Bill 18: Write-off Of Debts Act, 1993-94
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

March 29th, 1994

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The Chair Tony Whitford

Introductory Remarks

Bill 18: Write-off Of Debts Act, 1993-94
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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John Pollard Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The purpose of the Write-Off of Assets and Debts Act, 1994, is to authorize the write-off of certain debts listed in the schedule to the act. Pursuant to the Financial Administration Act, the write-off of assets or debts exceeding $20,000 for the government and most boards and agencies must receive Legislative Assembly approval.

The write-offs being proposed in this act will not require a new appropriation. The write-offs will be charged against allowances for bad debts which were established in previous department budgets. At the time it was determined that collection of the debts would be unlikely.

Mr. Chairman, a large component of the accounts being written off are loans made by the Business Credit Corporation. The number of loans being written off is significantly greater than usual. This is due to the Business Credit Corporation doing a comprehensive review of its accounts in order to update its records.

I wish to emphasize, Mr. Chairman, that the write-off of a debt does not relieve a debtor of the liability for repayment or mean that the government will not continue to attempt to collect the outstanding amount. Through continued reviews by my staff and those of the Business Credit Corporation, future recovery of the debts may still be achieved. In addition, we track the principals of each firm for future credit reference.

Mr. Chairman, I am, or the appropriate Minister is, prepared to answer questions on these proposed write-offs. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Bill 18: Write-off Of Debts Act, 1993-94
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Minister Pollard. Is the chairman of the Standing Committee on Finance prepared to make comments on the bill? The chair recognizes the Member from Kitikmeot, Mr. Ng.

Standing Committee On Finance Comments

Bill 18: Write-off Of Debts Act, 1993-94
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Kelvin Ng Kitikmeot

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The Standing Committee on Finance reviewed Bill 18, Write-Off of Debts Act, 1993-94, at its meeting in Yellowknife on March 23, 24 and 28, 1994. The committee was pleased that the Ministers of Finance and Economic Development and Tourism and their staff were available to answer questions.

In the past four years, the government wrote off a total of $1.2 million in debts. This bill, however, provides for the writing off of over $2.1 million in debts in a single year. The Standing Committee was concerned about this large increase in the amount of debts to be written off.

Most of the debts come from loans made from the business loans and guarantees fund. These loans have since been transferred to the Business Credit Corporation. The Ministers of Finance and of Economic Development and Tourism explained to the standing committee that this year they have made an effort to clean off the books. Further, the committee noted that many of the debts being written off date back five, six or seven years.

The standing committee trusts that the large total of $2.1 million we see in this bill is not the beginning of a trend in writing off debts. The Minister of Economic Development and Tourism assured the standing committee that recent loans have been made using more stringent guidelines. In fact, the recent Auditor General's report on the department and the Business Credit Corporation stated that: "The new loans made since BCC started are in better condition than the older loans".

The standing committee also had some concerns about policies related to loans to businesses. Committee Members were concerned about the risk involved in many of these loans. The standing committee recognizes that the Business Credit Corporation exists, in part, to provide loans to small business in the north which might not be able to borrow from banks or other conventional sources. Further, Members recognize that these loans carry a higher risk. This risk may be a necessary cost of stimulating the northern economy. However, the BCC still has a responsibility to minimize that risk and standing committee Members have been assured that the corporation

and the department will address this important and complex issue.

Finally, standing committee Members expressed concern about the position of the government as a creditor when borrowers file for bankruptcy. In many of the cases contained in this bill, other creditors were given higher priority than the GNWT in the distribution of assets and proceeds resulting from the bankruptcy. The Standing Committee on Finance asked the government to address this issue. Individual Members of the standing committee will take this opportunity in committee of the whole to ask questions. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Bill 18: Write-off Of Debts Act, 1993-94
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Member for Kitikmeot, Mr. Ng. General comments. The chair recognizes the Member for Deh Cho, Mr. Gargan.

General Comments

Bill 18: Write-off Of Debts Act, 1993-94
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Samuel Gargan Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have a general question and it is about the amount of personal loans, besides student loans, that have been given. I'm just wondering when people are given loans from the corporation, are those people allowed to operate if they have a debt or do they go under?