Merci, Monsieur le President. [Translation] The goals of the BDIC are noble ones, to help small businesspeople to address heavy bureaucratic requirements [translation ends]....territory, and this government's claim that diversification of our economy is a top priority, it would be reasonable to believe that this organization is pulling its weight and providing effective assistance to private enterprise. Yet I have been hearing from an ever-increasing number of small businesses that they have lost support from BDIC once the money has been lent. It seems that this organization has forgone its role in supporting the economic objectives of this government in encouraging business development in favour of becoming just another lender.
BDIC has the statutory power to adjust contracts, defer payments of the principal, and adjust interest rates. Yet I, too, like the honourable Member for Hay River North, who touched on this last week, am hearing that BDIC is squeamish to exercise all of the powers it has at its disposal. I am hard-pressed to believe that they have just become another monetary lender as a matter of policy. This is not a matter of law. I hope they begin to use every tool at their disposal and that the NWT will be able to get its economy back into a position of growth rather than the current state of contraction.
All this raises questions as to what is the long-term vision of the BDIC. Standing committees have heard from the BDIC leadership. We have heard about a desire to do more to invest in entrepreneurs, provide front-line services, and invest in developing sectors of our economy. I support this vision. It goes to more than just lending, but I am not confident that this vision is shared by this government. BDIC has seen its funding stripped away over successive budgets, and many of its front-line business support has been subsumed by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.
Mr. Speaker, I have spoken on the need for greater independence of the GNWT Crown corporations and arm's-length institutions. BDIC's board and president must be empowered to chart their own course for the corporation, and the Minister must not see the important work of BDIC as just another fund or function of his ministry.
Mr. Speaker, I have called before for this government to let the private sector lead, and now I will call on this government to get out of the way and let the BDIC support the private sector on its own terms for the long-term vision for success. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.