NSRL study underway

A major study, commissioned by the private sector on the impact of the dreaded National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) on the population, should be ready in a matter of weeks.

Barbados TODAY understands that the research, led by University of the West Indies (UWI) Professor of Economics Winston Moore is expected to, among other things, make recommendations for the replacement of the tax.

Moore could not be reached for comment on the matter. However, he and his team have been meeting with private sector representatives in an effort to determine the scale of the impact, as well as the response by businesses to the controversial tax, which was increased from two to ten per cent on the customs value of domestically manufactured and imported goods, effective July 1.

It was back in October that President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Eddie Abed had revealed that the UWI was commissioned to carry out the study.

At the time, he had described the NSRL as “regressive”, while suggesting that it had resulted in an increase in the domestic cost of living.

When contacted, Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Charles Herbert suggested that the study could help to inform upcoming wages negotiations. He also said it should help to clarify a number of grey matters with respect to the implementation of the tax.

“All we really have been getting is anecdotal statements that the cost of washing liquid went up by X dollars, but that alone is not a true evidence or the kind of thing that would inform exactly how people are impacted,” Herbert explained, adding that the private sector chose to have the study independently done so it did not “come across as being bias”.

Following its hike in July, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler reported to Parliament in October that the tax had raked in some $50 million in the intial three months.

However, since then there have been predictions that Government would not be able to meet its revenue targets for the NSRL, which was recently cited in the World Bank Doing Business 2018 Report as contributing to the difficulty in paying taxes here.

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