Get your house in order, warns minister
Local entrepreneurs must be prepared to pay their fair share of taxes and to contribute to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), warns Minister of Labour and Social Security Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo.
Addressing a recent Caribbean Start-up Summit at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, she further warned entrepreneurs of the need to operate above board.
“The old folks in Barbados would say if you start wrong, you end wrong. So I want to encourage you as you start your enterprise to start right,” advised Byer-Suckoo.
“Register your business – register with CAIPO [Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office], register with the National Insurance Scheme, register with the Barbados Revenue Authority. That is what I mean when I say formalize your business; getting into the system. If you have any employees, pay national insurance for them and for yourself. Start from early paying national insurance,” she urged.
Byer-Suckoo told Barbados TODAY while Government was not seeking to punish entrepreneurs who did not formalize their operations, they were were required to keep in line with the International Labour Organization (ILO) decent work country programme of which Barbados was a signatory.
“Informal work is an area that has been identified as a challenge globally. It is something the ILO has been flagging for us, certainly as ministers of labour . . . So we are trying to get them in the formal sector, also so that they can be protected by various laws and their workers can be protected,” she explained.
Stating that there were mostly vendors and “some doctors and lawyers” who were either not registered or paying taxes or national insurance, she said officers from the NIS and the Labour Department were engaging those business owners through education and public awareness campaigns.
“Informality is a big challenge for National Insurance as well, not just for Labour Department, not just income tax, but also for National Insurance. So they are working on it from their end,” she said.
During her address Byer-Suckoo also encouraged the entrepreneurs to be up-to-date with their taxes “in order to get those necessary clearance certificates so that you can bid for Government contracts”.
Pointing to ongoing changes to labour related legislation in an effort to improve working conditions, Byer-Sukoo also reminded the audience that non-contributory pension would soon become a thing of the past.
Acknowledging that the Holidays With Pay Act should be passed in a few weeks, she also pointed out that “changes are coming very soon with respect to discrimination and harassment in the workplace”, urging the entrepreneurs to pay close attention to the various labour laws.
Encouraging the entrepreneurs to “give back to society” through mentorship and apprenticeship programmes, Byer-Suckoo said philanthropy was something that should be embraced.
“None of us is self-made. The truth is here in Barbados we made it on the backs of our family, community and on the backs of taxpayers,” she said.
“Our education and our health care was free for most of us . . . So you are not self-made, you owe a lot to our society, our community, our taxpayers [and] to Government. You do owe a lot,” she said.
Byer-Suckoo also noted that as Government continued implementation of its 50 million Euros Human Resource Development Strategy (HRDS) greater focus would be placed on the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics in an effort to help address unemployment and underemployment on the island.