Mr. Speaker, may I congratulate a very experienced parliamentarian on his first presentation in this House. May I assure him that I was very pleased to see the Auditor General made clear that many of the criticisms from this side of the House when we were in opposition of the GST were in fact supported by his report.
I would also like to point out that measures have been taken, and I refer particularly to a press release I issued three weeks after assuming my position as minister to the effect that we would enhance enforcement, carry out more audits and have more prosecutions. We will continue to do that and I again am very happy to find that the Auditor General has supported the approach I took back in late November.
I can also assure the member that the amount of money involved is approximately 4 per cent of the total GST amount which is almost comparable to other jurisdictions that have a value added tax of this type. I can assure him that while 31 per cent of the firms and individuals who should be reporting have not done so, many of those individuals are in fact owed money by us and on others there is no question of owing anything at all.
This would explain for the member the discrepancy between a 4 per cent figure and a 31 per cent figure in terms of total numbers.