BLP flags tax increases
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) today warned Barbadians that Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler was set to pull a new tax from his budget black box and possibly extend others when he presents the 2016 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals Tuesday.
In a strong statement, economist Ryan Straughn, speaking on the party’s behalf, charged that the new tax which was “designed to collect in excess of $120 million on both imports and locally produced goods”, would only lead to dire consequences on the already overtaxed population.
“We feel that to impose a new tax on the Barbadian public, intended to raise more than $120 million from imports and locally produced goods, would lead to greater hardship on the very households already struggling to make ends meet. There will be an immediate and inevitable increase in the cost of living when Bajan wages have been frozen for more than six years,” he argued.
Straughn, who insisted there was “no more room for holes on the economic belts of Barbadians” also cautioned that the Sinckler would extend the tax on bank assets again and as a result Barbadians could expect increased bank charges.
“We all know that the banks will not absorb this additional cost but pass it onto Barbadian customers.”
The BLP candidate for Christ Church East Central bemoaned that Barbadians had been saddled with increased taxation since the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) assumed office in 2008, and “this exclusive tax approach had only served to take money from our pockets, stifled growth and led to a deterioration in our foreign exchange position”.
He further lamented that while Barbadians were forced to endure the harsh tax burden, they were left to grapple with a significant deterioration in the quality of public services.
“Some of these services include the extremely poor collection of garbage, lack of access to water in rural and suburban Barbados, poor roads across the country, poor health and drug services at our polyclinics and hospitals just to name a few,” the economist said.
Straughn appealed to Government to “rethink foisting these new taxes or other creative revenue measures” on Barbadians since the evidence was clear that the imposition of more taxes had failed every time over the last eight years.
The former president of the Barbados Economic Society maintained that while Government had been trumpeting the success of its home grown programme, the June 2016 Economic Review by the Central Bank of Barbados on economic performance showed otherwise.
“The foreign exchange reserves have not been restored or stabilized; the fiscal deficit has not been reduced to sustainable levels; and the foundation for a sustainable growth path has not been laid.
“From no perspective, using any yardstick, can they be deemed as successful,” he insisted.
In a recent interview with Barbados TODAY, Sinckler revealed that Government’s 19-month Fiscal Consolidation Programme would have to be extended and he did not rule out the possibility of increased taxes, stating that he would not allow the country to slip back into an unmanageable deficit position.
“We are working with it very cautiously . . . . It doesn’t mean that you are going to go and have a whole set of taxes increased. It may mean that we will look at what we already have and we will see if there are any areas where we can give reductions. If there are, we will do so. If we can sustain without bringing back any of those taxes that we have allowed to lapse, we will do so, but if necessary where possible, we will make adjustments accordingly to ensure that we maintain that balance,” he said at the time.