I hope that they will see fit to deal with the top of the pyramid and address the squandering going on at that level.
I see that I have only a few moments remaining in my speaking time. Let me briefly touch on taxation, just to say that a major confidence-building factor is missing at present. When you look at outstanding tax accounts totalling $6.6 billion. But 82 per cent of this amount is owed by 25 per cent of the taxpayers who have tax accounts oustanding. Yet the Minister of National Revenue is pleased to tell us: "We are much more efficient; we recover a much greater number of accounts". What he does not say is that they go for the small accounts. The large ones, they do not touch them. In the private sector, we go for the big accounts, we do not deal with the small ones first. Efforts are made in both cases, but here you are less efficient; you start with small accounts and large accounts. After a while, you have all kinds of problems on you hands. I am not talking about accounts in dispute, because then you could add another $2.5 billion. The Department of National Revenue generally wins most of these disputes. This means that, eventually, a few more billions can be expected to be recovered.
To this we can add the GST with overdue accounts in excess of $1 billion. The total amount owed the government is close to $9.5 billion. Why? Because people do not trust the government, because they feel that they are paying more than their fair share and are increasingly turning to the underground economy. More and more of them are rejecting and revolting against our tax system. What are they doing about this? Nothing yet. They do not even have the will to tackle the problem. They do not even talk about it. That is unacceptable.
The Bloc Quebecois will include its suggestions in the report to be submitted by the finance committee. They must remember one thing: They were elected to make decisions. They must stop hiding behind all the consultations they are holding to help them make decisions. They are paid to make decisions. The Minister of Finance was appointed by the Prime Minister to make decisions. He is not going to hide behind committees that will support his comments or tell him not to do this or that; it is up to him to decide. In any case, people will soon get fed up with these phony consultations. People are very skeptical, and with good reason, as we will see if they listened to what the people they consulted had to say about RRSPs.
I will close by addressing the issue of competitiveness. I will limit myself to four points out of many. We have our strong points, the areas where we rank in the middle, and our weaknesses. Since we want to improve, let us look at the weaknesses. Since I have only two minutes left, I will close on this. Some companies do not provide their employees with adequate training. This sounds to me like a training problem. The education system is not in line with the business world. This also sounds like a training problem. We are told of weaknesses in our education system. True, it is a provincial jurisdiction. Quite so. But here the provinces get money in the form of transfer payments. Suddenly they are told that their aid will be cut and that their students will have to go into debt. The government can no longer afford it. Students will have to go into debt. In addition to having to bear an incredible tax burden in the coming years, they will have to go into debt personally to pay for their own education. We benefited from the education system; now it is their turn to pay the bill for it and pay and pay and pay.
They take us for a bunch of idiots. What they are trying to do is unacceptable. It amounts to several billion dollars. Besides, we have learned that they even want to touch the tax points which Quebec acquired in the past; they will find obstacles in their path. We will block their way.
Two more points. We hear that governments have trouble adapting to new economic realities. In the present context where we must adjust quickly to markets, we need flexible, responsive, efficient political entities. What we have here is a political system that is completely paralyzed and has trouble moving; it consults and consults. How many consultations has it done? The Liberals are going over the same ground as the Conservatives did in 1984, with consultations on the same subjects. Why? Because finding a consensus in Canada is very difficult.
And then they tell us that we are out-and-out demagogues when we talk about sovereignty. It is a model which they should consider seriously. If they were honest, they would tell people across Canada that it is an option worth considering. I conclude with this: People are ready to make sacrifices, to the extent that they feel it is fair and everyone is doing their share, starting with the top of the pyramid. In terms of spending, this is the top of
the pyramid and we must cut spending. When that happens, people will really start to gain confidence.