Shoppers uneasy as onerous levy looms

Barbadians seem resigned to having to “cut and contrive” in order to make ends meet, as Government’s contentious National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) takes effect Saturday.

Uneasy shoppers said they dread the imposition of the levy, which jumps from two per cent to ten per cent, and which, along with increases in the excise duties on petrol and a two per cent tax on foreign exchange transactions, will double the cost of living, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“[The NSRL is] a heavy burden on the population. Things are hard already and it is going to get harder,” said Patricia Layne, who was shopping on Swan Street Friday.

The elderly woman said she had little choice but to be prudent when it comes to spending, adding she expected every Barbadian to do the same.

Another shopper, Claire Lucas, said she too had decided to “tighten my belt a little bit” and not “splurge as much as I did before”.

However, Lucas was worried about the fate of people in the lower income bracket, who already had a difficult time making do.

“I don’t know how they will be able to handle these new economic constraints. I think it is already difficult as it is . . . persons are barely surviving,” she told Barbados TODAY.

The levy, announced by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler in the May 30 Financial Statements and Budgetary Proposals, raised immediate concern among virtually every Barbadian, including two members of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s Cabinet – Minister of Commerce and International Business Donville Inniss and Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick, both of whom later voted to approve the measure.

Sinckler said the NSRL was needed to help close a massive deficit, and would raise $291 million for a full financial year and $218 million for the remaining nine months of the current fiscal year.

The business community had predicted the tax measures would hurt commerce.

Friday, President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Eddy Abed said the private sector would absorb the levy until current stocks run out.

Eddy Abed

Speaking at his flagship store, Abeds Swan Street, the BCCI boss said the onerous tax would have a disastrous effect on the already struggling economy, and could force the private sector to sever staff.

“I will caution that this will reduce activity, and by extension it will put pressure on private sector companies to look at their expenses. Part of their expenses is wages and although we have asked our members to make that their number one priority to protect jobs for as long as they can, I think it would be a misnomer for me not to warn that jobs most likely in the private sector will be at risk as well,” he told Barbados TODAY, adding he expected Barbadians to spend even less from Saturday.

One of the concerns raised by many Barbadians was the potential impact on the prices of school supplies.

In a statement Friday in which he warned the tax would become “a bitter and painful reality” for everyone, economist and Opposition Barbados Labour Party candidate for Christ Church East Central Ryan Straughn said: “Come August, when back to school shopping is at its peak, we will truly feel the pain of these measures as the cost of school supplies, stationery and uniforms will increase.”

However, department store Cave Shepherd on Broad Street in Bridgetown plans to keep such prices at current levels even after the levy takes effect Saturday.

“We have had customers coming to the store purchasing items before the [levy takes] effect, which is July 1, but for our school department, which is the school clothes and Pages, we will not be increasing the prices on those items,” Store Coordinator Mark Clarke disclosed.

Mark Clarke

Sinckler has announced that some 300 basic goods items will be exempted from the levy, while the Central Bank of Barbados has announced a delay in the implementation of the two per cent tax on foreign exchange transactions.

This notwithstanding, Straughn said Barbadians should prepare for a tough ride ahead.

“Regardless of the uncertainty as to their implementation dates, the one sure thing is that these measures will wreak unheard-of suffering in the lives of Barbadians at a time when so many are already finding it extremely difficult to simply live from day to day,” he said.

katrinaking@barbadostoday.bb

30 Responses to Shoppers uneasy as onerous levy looms

  1. Jennifer July 1, 2017 at 12:24 am

    The headline of these articles really baffle me. I am at a lost as to why we as a people would be uneasy about some levy. Have we forgotten how to LIVE??? Let the store owners be uneasy instead or are we that deep in Cesar’s matrix???? On analysis we know that we have taken another subliminal pay/pension cut while Cesar’s generals aka Judases had pre added their 10% before Pilate’s visitation. We as a people have been suffering in SERVITUDE FOR NEARLY 400YRS. So we should know how to live – it is in our nature. Come on guys. The majority of this crap and burdens we do not need. Stop falling for that okiedoke. Buy what you NEED and leave the rest on the shelves to catch dust and expire. And for goodness sake train your children to eat breadfruits, green bananas and yams and desist from kenturkey and cheffiete.

    Reply
  2. Saga Boy July 1, 2017 at 1:25 am

    I agree with you. The private sector always wins. They continue to exploit the masses and nobody says anything. They are parasites.

    Reply
  3. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce July 1, 2017 at 5:02 am

    #workdeland.

    Reply
    • Peter Lowe
      Peter Lowe July 1, 2017 at 6:43 am

      It makes sense working the land if yah can’t reap anything? You know how much 2 foot and 4 foot monkeys in Barbados.think before you post foolishness

      Reply
    • Rebellious Kelly
      Rebellious Kelly July 1, 2017 at 7:01 am

      I get so tired of hearing ppl talk about growing your own food. When the monkeys don’t steal or destroy everything, the other thieves make off with what’s left. These ppl who are preaching this nonsense obviously don’t have these issues.

      Reply
    • Ashanda Coward
      Ashanda Coward July 1, 2017 at 7:17 am

      I agree Veronica Boyce, people need to stop seeing so much negative from everything, grow your own kitchen garden not a landfull of food, grow enough for others and you. At the rate things are going at a lot dont have much choice to grow something.

      Reply
    • Peter Lowe
      Peter Lowe July 1, 2017 at 7:33 am

      Ashannda how can it be negative when I know farmers who stop farming Because of these same reasons I mentioned. All they were doing is working for other people to come and reap and the monkeys

      Reply
    • Peter Lowe
      Peter Lowe July 1, 2017 at 7:35 am

      The Authorities have to put laws and measures in place to deal with these problems before even thinking about agriculture

      Reply
    • Rebellious Kelly
      Rebellious Kelly July 1, 2017 at 8:38 am

      Peter Lowe this is why I had to say that ppl who are preaching it are the ones who haven’t experienced the issues. They just don’t get it.

      Reply
    • Veroniva Boyce
      Veroniva Boyce July 1, 2017 at 9:32 am

      Ashanda Coward, Exactly. It’s nature. They can’t eat all animals and insects are not as Greedy as Humans.

      Reply
    • Veroniva Boyce
      Veroniva Boyce July 1, 2017 at 9:33 am

      Peter Lowe, STOP farming, wunna soon starve.

      Reply
  4. David Brathwaite July 1, 2017 at 5:31 am

    The tax is on imports, so these retailers are absorbing nothing until their stocks have to be replenished. Barbados Today should not just parrot what was said, but should bring at least a modicum of clarity and analysis to the reporting.

    It’s called journalism.

    Reply
  5. Carson C Cadogan July 1, 2017 at 6:14 am

    there IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THE NSRL.

    Reply
  6. Charming Forde
    Charming Forde July 1, 2017 at 6:53 am

    I don’t see why shoppers should be uneasy, we keep forgetting the power that we have with our money. If the items are too expensive, you leave them and shop somewhere else or you reduce the amount you are buying. When the high priced items are left on the shelves, the store owners will be forced to have a “sale”. Then the shoppers will benefit from lower prices.

    Reply
    • Jennifer July 1, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Exactly Charming – We have become like that elephant tie with the cotton. And Americanized into MOWING LAWNS.

      Reply
    • Maureen Fields
      Maureen Fields July 1, 2017 at 9:24 am

      The power to vote the DLP OUT!

      Reply
  7. Carson C Cadogan July 1, 2017 at 7:38 am

    The rain fell last night, as the old Bajans would say, buckets of drops.

    Showers of blessings for 1st. July 2017.

    Reply
  8. Beverley Headley
    Beverley Headley July 1, 2017 at 8:00 am

    Merchants have the merchandise, but people have the buying power and they need to start exercising their power, and you will see how quick things will change. It’s the merchants who should be uneasy cuz they want to stay in business, they will either bring down the prices and bring down

    Reply
    • Maureen Fields
      Maureen Fields July 1, 2017 at 9:27 am

      The power to VOTE out the Democratic Labour Party!
      Use that God given POWER!

      Reply
  9. Beverley Headley
    Beverley Headley July 1, 2017 at 8:01 am

    Or bring down the gates on their establishments!

    Reply
  10. Beverley Headley
    Beverley Headley July 1, 2017 at 8:01 am

    We the people have to fight back by holding back.

    Reply
  11. Ras Small
    Ras Small July 1, 2017 at 8:23 am

    Give it 9 days ta 9 weeks and all will return ta “normal”.
    Yah can do anything ta Black ppl, especially Barbadians.

    Reply
  12. Charming Forde
    Charming Forde July 1, 2017 at 8:40 am

    When they put their employees out of work then they would have to close or do the work themselves. We cannot let them use that as an excuse all the time for the ridiculous prices being charged. We must use or purchasing power wisely.

    Reply
  13. Tricia Mondore
    Tricia Mondore July 1, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Too some degree I understand the plight of the business people because the tax is applied at the port of entry what I can’t understand is how some businesses can impose this tax without first selling off the old stock that is the sad part about this . As customers we do have the power always did but sadly never used it.

    Reply
  14. Maureen Fields
    Maureen Fields July 1, 2017 at 9:21 am

    SOMETHING WRONG with all you people HERE!!!
    STOP PICKING on the merchants!
    It the Democratic Labour Party who you all vote in…Not the merchants!
    Dems give your monies to mark and other shady investors…not to the merchants!?
    You DLP supporters need to stop passing blame!

    BARBADIANS!, get the rid of the Democratic Labour Party!
    I believe that things will change…IT HAPPENED BEFORE & WE WERE PROSPEROUS.
    Father, open all Barbadian’s eyes to acknowledge the WRONGS of this Democratic Labour Party government, in Jesus’ name, amen.

    Reply
  15. Saga Boy July 1, 2017 at 9:43 am

    V@Maureen. What will the BLP do? Reverse the tax? You clearly don’t understand what is happening. You are pure emotion. The private sector has been exploiting us continuously and only a few have challenged them. We need a strong consumer body to ensure that prices stop rising every week. When Government give them concessions they never pass on the savings to the consumers. The tax is aimed at reducing the demand for foreign currency so it is having the exact effect intended.

    Reply
    • Jennifer July 1, 2017 at 10:05 am

      Well said Saga B. That forgetful brain is the problem. Change government = Same outcome. Mind you the mice waiting to bite up the clothes.

      Reply
  16. Rumboy July 1, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Too many Taxes. Too much Taxation will never get us out of a recession

    Reply
  17. Milli Watt July 1, 2017 at 11:20 am

    you can run Barbados but you can’t hide it is time to pay the piper the sooner this time the better at least that is what Sinky is saying lolol

    Reply
  18. Greengiant July 1, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    In another print media the I M F regional representative said and I quote, ” the May 30, budget accelerates the pace of adjustment, it seeks to address the fundamental imbalance between revenues and expenditures that has characterized Barbados’ public finances in the past decade, and to significantly reduce new funding requirements.”

    This government came to office in 2008, that by my count is only nine years. So our fiscal imbalance was an issue for ten years at least. As I said so often this problem of spending more than we earned stated with the B L P’s mismanagement. Their hope was to win again in 2008 and make the needed adjustments then.

    Now the D L P has decided to make the painfull decision after most of their parliamentarians would have served long enough to guarantee their pension. The solution could have been adjusted from 2008 right after the election in consultation with the unions, BCCI and the I M F. We would have been in a much better position, as the process would have been less painfull due to the length of the adjustment. This one is sudden, painfull, but according to the I M F will serve the purpose.

    However whoever forms the next government will need to make further fiscal adjustments in the medium term to avoid us falling behind again. The only question remaining. Can these two major parties make the painfull decisions needed in the future or will they keep pleasing the people who elect them with the former financially unwise expectations of government employment. Government cannot continue being the largest employer, while aiming to deliver escential and nonescential services.

    Reply

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