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It better wid dem?

I saw a woman at the supermarket last week wearing an old campaign T-shirt that said “It better wid Dem”. I’m assuming that she had nothing else to put on that day because she couldn’t possibly still believe that propaganda.

September 1, 2013 marked the beginning of one of the hardest Budget measures that has hit Barbados in a long time. I remember when we had the stabiliaation tax in 1991, my husband and I both lost $75 each from our salaries and we thought that was painful, given what we were earning at the time, but this new consolidation tax has taken pain to a new level.

When I read about the proposal for the consolidation tax, like most reasonable people, I assumed it was going to be on a tiered basis, as one accounting firm calculated in their Budget summary. So when I saw the notice from Inland Revenue showing the calculation of the tax I couldn’t believe it.

Many people will be going home at the end of this month with a pay slip that will be showing significantly less money and what will we passive Bajans do? Grumble among ourselves or on the Call In programmes and accept it.

What I find even more Draconian is the slashing of the reverse tax credit by 50 per cent. If someone is working for $250 a week, which amounts to $13,000 a year, that person has just been robbed of five per cent of their income and I know that many people desperately need that money.

Why these measures are particularly hard to swallow is because we’re now paying for the mismanagement and overspending that has been going on for years, not just this term and not just by this Government.

The Opposition would have us believe that the situation we are in is totally the fault of the current Government, but both are at fault. Both are responsible for cost overruns on projects, for gross overspending and for maintaining a public sector workforce that is much too big for an island our size.

The private sector has made pay cuts and has had to put people on reduced hours and in some cases terminated others and yet Government continues to maintain that there will be no job losses in the public sector.

I don’t want to see people lose their job either so other measures need to be taken. Maybe this would be a good time to discontinue initiatives like the constituency councils and maybe privatization might not look so bad now.

Only last week someone (a Barbadian) told me that they hate living in Barbados because it’s so hard here. I’m sure it’s hard in a lot of other places but I’ve had my share of grief in the last week with living in Barbados and doing business here.

The incident that really upset me was having to pay an outrageous sum of money to bring in an item that I couldn’t get here. My son was going away to represent Barbados in tennis and had to wear black tennis shorts. Since I could not find any here, I had to bring in two pairs via UPS. The two pairs of shorts cost BDS $100 and I had to pay $133 to get them out of customs.

My understanding is that the tariffs imposed are to protect local industries, but we do not make tennis shorts here so why do we have to pay 60 per cent duty plus VAT and then of course the clearing charges?

Another thing I can’t understand is how the Government can possibly be proposing to spend a ton of money to purchase and refurbish hotels (again) when the existing hotels here can’t even fill their rooms. Surely we need to work on our marketing strategy and our service first, or perhaps we’re like the farmer in the movie Field of Dreams and believe that once we build the stadium (i.e. hotels) the people will come.

I don’t know about you but I don’t see how it is “better wid dem” — but I’m not waiting for anyone to provide “a better tomorrow” either so I’m convinced more than ever that we have to find ways to help ourselves. If it’s to be, it’s up to we. (In Bajan vernacular).

* Donna Every is a business and motivational speaker whose passion is to help individuals and organizations fulfill their purpose. She has written five books and has recently released her second novel, The High Road.

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