It’s an “asinine” tax, says consumer rights advocate

Consumer rights advocate Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt is not mincing words when it comes to the recently announced hike in the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) from two to ten per cent.

While calling it an “asinine” tax measure, Gibbs-Taitt today joined with noted economists Jeremy Stephen and Ryan Straughn in pouring cold water over Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s announcement yesterday that over 300 items in Government’s so-called basic basket of goods will not attract the tax come July 1.

Gibbs-Taitt told Barbados TODAY from the time Government reduced the size of the basket back in 2015, Barbadians have been struggling to make ends meet. Therefore, he said, the basket has been of no real benefit to consumers.

In fact, Gibbs-Taitt, the Director General of the Barbados Consumers Research Organization Inc (BARCRO), suggested that what Sinckler should have done was to put back some items in the basic basket of goods if he wanted ordinary Barbadians to benefit.

“Levy is just another word for the constant taxes that all of us will have to bear. Those who can opt out will do so and those who have no choice will just have to grin and bear it. The truth is, it has become very difficult to see all of this other than asinine,” he told Barbados TODAY.

In further criticizing Sinckler’s May 30 Budget, the consumer rights activist said “it is very obvious to me that the basket of goods was not exempted in the beginning because no mention was made of it.

“But presumably after talks with various groups he may have decided to include that.”

And with the move to exempt the basket of goods still to be approved by Cabinet, Gibbs-Taitt said he was adopting a wait and see approach to the minister’s latest announcement.

He also suggested that if Government really wanted to encourage economic growth, it would make sure people “have monies in their pockets” since this would provide for “a natural ability to spend money”.

“What the Government should be doing is resorting to the proper basket of goods before it was tampered with and see if that would be some little measure of help, especially to the lower paid in our society, of which there are many now.

“That would help but I am not so sure increasing the NSRL by some 400 per cent is a workable idea,” he added.

Gibbs-Taitt also poured cold water on the increase in taxes on fuel as well as the two per cent fee on foreign exchange transactions, arguing that they only served to make matters worse for ordinary Barbadians because he anticipated businesses would pass on those increases.

“Especially diesel, the merchants will see that as another expense that they will have to bear and will pass it on to the consumers. So that is not good,” he said.

While making it clear he was not one for outsiders telling Barbados what to do, Gibbs-Taitt said the current situation facing the country had reached a level where it stood to “decrease the value of our money” and he was wondering if the International Monetary Fund could not help to “put a stop to it”.

“Sometimes we need people from outside to bring sense to us,” he said in support of recent calls for Government to enter into a formal programme with the Washington-based financial institution.

However, Government has been stridently rejecting those calls, while insisting on homegrown solutions to the island’s economic challenges.

Meanwhile, Stephen today said he was delighted that an effort was being made to protect the most vulnerable in society, even though he was not convinced that it had gone far enough.

“I am glad that they [Government] recognize that the NSRL is regressive in nature and they are trying their best to protect the poor and vulnerable in this society, although I don’t think it is nearly enough. But for the time being, it is better than the initial proposal to just have a NSRL across the board,” Stephen told Barbados TODAY.

In a separate interview, economist Ryan Straughn supported Gibbs-Taitt’s view that even though Government’s basket of goods would not attract the tax, consumers were already struggling as a result of the Value Added Tax (VAT) that was added to some items a couple years ago.

“So really and truly the Government really isn’t doing anybody a favour by not applying the NSRL to that because it already basically punish the ordinary individual in Barbados by taxing the basic food items, moving from zero to 17.5 per cent.

“The reality is though that the cost of everything else around will still go up. So transportation, freighting and logistics, everything like that will still feed into it somewhat. So it really isn’t an ease. An ease would be to put back the VAT to zero per cent [on the basket of goods] as it was under the Barbados Labour Party for a long time,” said Straughn, who is the BLP candidate for Christ Church East Central.

Straughn also took issue with the tourism sector being exempted from the levy, telling Barbados TODAY while Sinckler had announced he was bringing a balanced Budget, the fact that the tourism sector was being given “some level of ease” made it unbalanced.

“Therefore one has to question whether the Minister of Finance really understands what he is doing and what is the true intent of the Government, because on one hand you can’t be telling the whole of Barbados that you looking to [have a] balanced Budget, but after consultation you are going to run an imbalanced Budget.

“At the end of the day you are not necessarily responding to taxpayers because ultimately, who is going to benefit from the ease to hoteliers? Tourists don’t pay [direct] taxes here in Barbados. So to the extent that ordinary people in Barbados will be impacted within the next few days ought to be of some concern to all the policymakers in the country because you are not listening to the people that actually drive the economy . . . so it is just really policy confusion,” Straughn said.

42 Responses to It’s an “asinine” tax, says consumer rights advocate

  1. Sunil Brome
    Sunil Brome June 22, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    One way to put it…

  2. joan Worrell June 23, 2017 at 12:25 am

    Yes, Malcolm, the tax is asinine and so was the printing of money to pay public workers monthly. They must be paid . Do you have an alternative suggestion as to where the money can be sourced without the lender demanding that there be staff cuts?

    • hcalndre June 23, 2017 at 9:41 am

      @joan Worrell; is this alternative suggestion for this inept Froon and his 16. Where were you when so many suggestions were put on the table and Captain Froon said that his crew are competent enough to do the job and needed no help from any one, so why now you and others asking, where is the solutions?

      • Lee R June 23, 2017 at 10:37 am

        Agreed. They don’t need any suggestions. They’re sticking with their home grown policies. SMH.

  3. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn June 23, 2017 at 6:36 am

    This country AIN’T have no leader. The finance minister is the leader of this country.

  4. Santini More
    Santini More June 23, 2017 at 6:43 am

    An asinine tax bought into being by an ….

  5. harry turnover June 23, 2017 at 6:58 am

    Man wunna people….. DEMS and their associate yard fowls and paling cocks cannot seem to understand that the DEMOCRATIC LABOUR PARTY is the GOVERNMENT OF THE DAY and should stop BLAMING PEOPLE for NOT COMING UP WITH ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS
    ADVICE was given and wunna did WARNED EARLY ON ….and wunna IGNORED IT saying that all ya got people in the Party that can run a Government headed by a mechanical economist and now that everything BREK DOWN wunna talking bout people en coming up with alternatives to dis and dat daiz why wunna got to do dis and the third.

  6. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn June 23, 2017 at 7:20 am

    All businesses in BARBADOS have the power to shut down this country and show this government who is the boss. The people have the power. No 16 people don’t have no power. Bajan people SOFT. We need to look at Venezuela.

  7. Ralf June 23, 2017 at 7:25 am

    Alternative solutions? Where were you hiding all of the time, under a rock in the yard?

  8. joan Worrell June 23, 2017 at 8:04 am

    I was hiding in Parliament yard waiting to hear your leader’s response to the budgetary proposals. All I got was three hours of hands in the air , pooching back and doing the dog. Yes there must be an alternative to paying Government workers by printing money. Ask your leader to address the situation instead of asking George Payne to do the job. The people of Barbados are tired of Freundel Stuart and were hoping that your leader would have offered them hope with her response to the budgetary proposals. They were heartbroken at the end of her presentation. Owen Arthur spoke like a true leader and word on the street is that he is thinking of a come-back but not from Roebuck Street. Barbados Solutions should be out there making mileage of the situation but they too are a disappointment so far. They should have named a full slate of candidates by now and tell the nation how they will pay the oversized Civil Service without printing money. Yes Owen, you are younger than Donald Trump. You do not have to canvass to win your seat. You do not have to speak on every platform during the campaign. Align yourself with one of the minor Parties and either win at the polls or do a ”Theresa May” coalition. Barbados needs you now more than ever.

    • Breadfruit. June 23, 2017 at 8:46 am

      @joan Worrell

      It was Owen come back that allowed this Shiite party to be back in power and shiiite in all ah we

    • Breadfruit. June 23, 2017 at 9:06 am

      Owen lost the last two elections to the DLP. He can contribute to the future development of Barbados as an economist and not a politician.

      Don’t worry Mia gine find sumting fuh he to do. dat is if he want de job she gine offer.
      Yuh know why? Because she got d best political brain in the country. She knows when to hold dem, fold dem or leh dem go.

      Wid our widout Owen, none of dem new parties aint saying a pang

    • Breadfruit. June 23, 2017 at 9:28 am

      @ joan worrell

      Why yuh hate Mia so? wha she do you?

      If the Civil Service is OVERSIZED, as u seh.
      Why the ASSnine yuh printing money or breking d poor bajan back to pay dem fuh.

      Mia tell me to tell yuh, if it oversize then the solution is to bring it back to size. Now cah ur asinine back under you rock in the yard and lef the next PM of Barbados alone.

    • Ernesta Catlyn June 23, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      Miss Worrell, do your homework and tell me how many additional persons joined the civil service just before the 2013 elections. If Government has to print money to pay for its expenses – and not just public officers’ wages/salaries – then it is because of their actions to ensure they won the government in 2013. Keeping this large number of public officers in 2017 has nothing to do with love of people or country but to win the 2018 elections again. It is all about them. When they got into power they said it was their time to milk the cow; they have no intentions of giving up the cow or calf for that matter.

  9. Itz Queen
    Itz Queen June 23, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Prices gone up already and expect to go up again on the first of July.Only God to save us from the suffering ahead.who staring this ship ?de captain asleep only waking for tourists function.

  10. joan Worrell June 23, 2017 at 9:06 am

    @ Breadfruit

    And a Shiite party in Opposition. lol

    • Breadfruit. June 23, 2017 at 9:35 am

      Also all the other third parties.

      But out of all them the BLP is the most prepared and experienced or best alternative.

  11. joan Worrell June 23, 2017 at 9:53 am

    @ Joan

    Your words ”’But out of all of them the BLP etc.”” Who is ”all of them? Are you saying that the BLP is also a third party and it is the best alternative of all the third parties? Cud dear , don’t do that to your beloved BLP. Once again I am calling on Owen to align himself with one of the real third parties and even if he doesn’t win the majority, the party with the most seats will go on their knees and beg him to form a coalition. Then he can call the shots.

    • Breadfruit. June 23, 2017 at 10:10 am

      @ joan

      Guh back under ur rock and back to sleep and keep dreaming.

      The party wid the most seats will be the BLP by a far margin and will not have to merge with any other party to form any government.


      All the other third parties will not even get a total of two seat between all of them. If they get one they will have achieved a lot.

  12. Francis June 23, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Breadfruit please shut up!!
    You are saying absolutely nothing just being

    Malcolm Taitt is the Director General of an organisation
    Where he is the ONLY MEMBER!! seriously?????

    The bottom line is
    CUT COSTS by reducing your biggest fixed
    Line item SALARIES

    • Toyab June 23, 2017 at 10:19 am

      Yuh hit the nail on the head Francis

    • Breadfruit. June 23, 2017 at 10:27 am

      @ fransis
      It doesn’t have to be OR
      You can have a combination of the two.
      IMF loan plus a combination of the two.

      IMF loan will reduce the impact of the other two.
      Meaning the tax hike would have to be so great or the number of worker sent home would be as great . This will reduce the drag on the economy this would be caused if you do only TAXES or LAYOFF

      • Breadfruit. June 23, 2017 at 10:30 am


        would not

  13. Milli Watt June 23, 2017 at 10:13 am

    I wonder is Malcolm will call out the consumers encourage the to RISE UP!…………then again you can’t eat the money lolol. Next month going be something else and Minister ain’t moving.

  14. hcalndre June 23, 2017 at 10:14 am

    I wonder what people outside of Barbados are thinking when they read the article about the 300 items that escape the MOF taxes and see the items that are mention and on the John Lovell show going on now a women call and said that Barbados is the best country in world to live, first you must be able eat to live, even a loaf of bread is taxed.

  15. joan Worrell June 23, 2017 at 11:20 am

    @ Breadfruit

    Where in the world is the IMF lending money to pay an oversized Civil Service every month. Where in the world has the IMF loaned a country money to pay off its debt and didn’t demand that it implement austerity measures.. Stop looking at the leaves in the breadfruit tree and drawing conclusions. Read Bloomberg , the free snippets from the Economist, the Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the New York Times, Washington Post etc. etc. You don’t have to depend on the Barbados economists to inform you second hand. They read the same items as you can do on the Internet . The only exception is that they might subscribe to the magazines or tabloids.

  16. Greengiant June 23, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Malcolm, this basket of goods has been a bone of contention within our economy since 1996. Sadly none of the noted economist or yourself didn’t call on Arthur back then to stagger the VAT on items. The VAT should never have been 15% or 17.5% accross the board. It should have been, and should now be staggered from zero to the top percentage depending on the neccesity of the item purchased.

    VAT is a luxury / Consumer tax, and should be appropiately applied. These are the things you consumer rights, and economic advocates should be calling for in this country. Never mind the recent increases, this revenue will pay public servants, and bring money into circulation. All the unions should be demanding of the government now is the back pay due to public servants before christmas. Whatever the workers has earned, and are due should be paid in full. I really want the government to make public the alternatives presented to them prior to the budget presentation, the names of persons who sat on those avisory commitees and the various national organizations who made the recommendations.

    It’s time for total transperancy, that’s what the opposition and the public are calling for, and this is the ideal time for the government to reveal all. It’s only politically astute to do so. Let the people see the evidence, so they will know who they’re working for, what they’re working with and more importantly whao they should give their support to when the bell rings. The voters need to make informed decisions with their ‘X’ and not emotional choices.

  17. Breadfruit. June 23, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    @ joan

    IMF or any other bank would be foolish to lend money to pay an oversized civil service.

    I have already told you the solution for the oversized is to bring it to size. This is for the best interest of the country.

    By trying to maintain an oversized civil service you have to
    1. Print money which is depleting the foreign reserves
    2. Raise taxes, Raise taxes, Raise taxes – this will increase cost of living, affect the private sector and result in private sector layoffs and less revenue for government.

    Then you have to print money or raise more taxes to make up for the short fall, in order to continue paying an OVERSIZED civil service. When will it stop? Only when the civil service is brought to size or the economy grows large enough to afford it.

    The economy is not growing fast enough.

    Note I said IMF loan plus the other two(taxes and layoffs)

  18. joan Worrell June 23, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    @ Breadfruit
    Go to the head of the class. Overlooked the taxes and layoffs in error.

  19. Breadfruit. June 23, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    @ joan

    Mia would nevuh mek a simple mistake like dat.
    She aint perfect but not so simple.
    Dats why we going wid MIA dis time and not wid Owen as u want.

  20. jrsmith June 23, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    As I said before this government is going to win the up coming election, this lot in government has hypnotize the black masses in barbados for 9 years , not even the opposition party challenge the government for real…………..bajans are frighten of the politicians and scared of the 1% of the people who control barbados, without getting involve with the political rubbish and the jargon about taxes , which comes with the corruption..
    Bajans what would be the out come if the above happens, what chance have our people to remove them there corrupt politicians from office , ……………………………….. We need in barbados an act of parliament namely so ( The Accountability Act ) , giving powers to the people through a vote of no confidence , to have (MP) remove from office,…………..

  21. Xman June 23, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    The Public Service is oversized because there are no creative ideas for creating employment other than absorbing people into Government Statutory Boards. Sell the transport board to the workers and do like Trinidad. Transportation problem solved, more people employed and Government saves on transfers. Stop the stealing according to the AG and Government saves

  22. joan Worrell June 23, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Sorry Breadfruit. Benjamin Franklin once said ‘Lost time is never found again”. Mia wasted three hours replying to the budget speech. She went down a road with which Sinckler was more familiar than she. When Sinckler responded in his wrap up speech, he was devastating and all she could do is go to the press and try to clear her name. .By then the damage was done. You need Owen to restore credibility to Roebuck Street gang.

  23. joan Worrell June 23, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Benjamin Franklin once said ”Lost time will never be found again” . Mia wasted 3 hours responding to the budget speech.

  24. Breadfruit. June 23, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    @ joan
    If she did say to go to the IMF like owen did it still didn’t gine mek a difference to you. she still aint gine get ur vote.

    She waste or lost time according to you, a vote she will nevuh get.
    She aint waste no time wid she supporters dat gine mek she d first female PM of Barbados.
    Yuh want she solutions fuh the country then listen to she budget next may or earlier if necessary.

    Owen geh he solutions did it mek any difference?

  25. Lorenzo June 23, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    Breadfruit arguing with Joan Worrell the biggest DLP ass licker along with CCC is a waste of time.She sees every thing Through George Street,therefore she can,t think for herself.She like the Trini Dem and Maureen Holder keep asking for solutions,which were given and you heard from Mr Estwick ,Sinkler and Inniss that this is we time ,wannuh had yours.Mr Thompson around 2007 when asked for solutions said the government is elected to run the country ,the opposition does not have to give solutions,you remember that statement ?Ms Mottley will give her solutions when an election is called.Deal with it.

  26. joan Worrell June 23, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    Lorenza ,

    Your words quote Breadfruit arguing with Joan Worrell the biggest DLP ass licker along with CCC is a waste of time

    “My response . I have been telling you for the longest time that same sex marriages will not be legalized in Barbados in your lifetime. Ass licking is right up your street. I have healthy exchanges with decent people . Are you negative or you positive. Get tested today. You know that song?

  27. joan Worrell June 23, 2017 at 10:30 pm


    Had a distraction there from a black belly sheep. The last time I voted was for Johnny Tudor when he won the seat for the first time. I want to see the back of Freundel sooner than you. However Mia has not convinced me that she is the person to take over the reins. How can I vote for her? If I do return to the polling station, I will vote for whichever candidate Owen Arthur supports in my constituency. He did the job before and he can do it again. Mia wasted three hours doing the dog without committing her Party to a solution to paying an oversized Civil Service. Sinckler and Arthur proposed austere measures. Mottley said nothing during her bashment presentation. Do you believe that the workers would vote for a party which doesn’t tell them how they will be paid if elected.

  28. Breadfruit. June 23, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    @ joan

    Sinkler tell dem how they will be paid. Mia didn’t . You wood vote in sinkler agin ovuh MIA? Den you deserve wha ever suffering you get.

    The next PM of Barbados solutions will come at the appointed time. Not before to please you.

    I tell yuh before and will tell yuh agin. The woman got the best political mind in Barbados. She knows when to hold dem and when to fold them.

    Owen may be a better economist but she is the better politician.
    Owen play he political ace and lost. He tek a sure BLP victory from under Mia and turned it into defeat

    • Breadfruit. June 23, 2017 at 11:05 pm

      Maybe you did not get the message from the last two elections.

      We like Owen the economist not Owen the PM.

      Study dat well !

  29. joan Worrell June 23, 2017 at 11:19 pm


    Bajans smarter than you think No Donald Trump tactics will work here. She either tells the Civil Servants how they will be paid or they will not vote for her. Owen was Prime Minister for 14-1/2 years and was respected as both an economist and a leader in Barbados and regionally. He has a track record.

  30. Lorenzo June 24, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Joan Worrell I told you already the same sex angle you ana Dr Lowe coming with ain,t working ,even Mr Inniss already dismiss that as nonsenseToo many on your side got skeletons in their closet.My advise to you is drop the subject,it ain,t going to help the DLP ,people are hungry and can,t pay their bills so this is a non issue .Enough said.Talk about the 10 percent NSRL tax.


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