Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler has dismissed as “rubbish” suggestions that Government is increasing Value Added Tax to 21 per cent.
The official is, however, keeping the likely contents of next month’s Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals guarded, noting that much of what would come was still being discussed with other members of the Social Partnership. He was speaking this evening during a media briefing at Government Headquarters, in which he said “we are right on track with our work and we will be speaking at varying levels to … Barbadians”.
But Sinckler said one thing he could assure the public of was that there would be no new VAT increase.
“There will be no increase in VAT, you can say I say that,” he told the media. Sinckler said “it is popular fare for a lot of … ole talk and common talk to be going around”, including that he would have announced his resignation at today’s briefing.
“The latest is that VAT is going to be increased to 21 per cent and all of these things … other people like to fascinate themselves on, a lot of it largely driven by people in the Opposition too,” he said.
“I can tell you no such thing is the case and it is just for Barbadians to just settle themselves, we are hard at work, … we are not just lying down playing dead, we are working very hard to put together a comprehensive programme. The minister said he was pleased with the state of discussions with stakeholder groups including unions and the private sector.
“The meetings have been going well. As you know we had the national consultation that would have kicked off the sessions and we have broken them down into specific organisitons and groups and they are coming.
“It takes on a much larger importance, obviously because of the challenges we have in the local economy,” he said.
“Those meetings have been going exceedingly well, we have met with the unions, we are going to meet with them again, as we will meet with the full Social Partnership again, we have met with the Chamber of Commerce, the BHTA, BIBA, manufacturers, agriculturalists, we met with practically all of them.
“Every one is fully on board, they are really bringing out the very best in terms of ideas and initiatives and showing levels of innovation and thought that perhaps might not have been present in less challenging times.”
He was also happy that Government’s growth and development strategy was generating debate among economists and others.
“The economists are having their fun time speaking about all that is happening in the economy and that plan and that is what we wanted to have happened, …. that is what has to happen before we come to the country with a full package — there must be a discourse,” he stated.
“The discourse is taking place, I am listening to it very patiently and quietly and I will intervene at the appropriate time to outline the Government’s full and overall strategy going forward, both for our fiscal programme, but equally as well for the growth part of the programme, which is for me the most important element of our strategy going forward.” (SC)