As concerns mount about the controversial Municipal Solid Waste Tax, a senior Government minister is urging business owners not to complain, but to work closer together to ensure their survival and be more proactive in their approaches.
Minister of Industry Donville Inniss acknowledged that the economic conditions in the country were taking a toll on some operations, but said he also understood Government’s need to increase revenue. At the same time, Inniss said the time wasted by Barbadians talking about Trinidadians and other investors taking over businesses in the country should be better spent trying to acquire those same assets.
He was speaking to the media yesterday evening following the official renaming of the Neal & Massy Group to Massy Group of Companies at the Auto Dome in Warrens.
“I would like [us] to spend more time and energy focusing on the way forward as opposed to harping on the past and harping on all the negativity around today. When you look at the Massy Group today, small entrepreneurs can ask themselves what products and services can I supply a conglomerate like this, or am I just going to sit in my little corner and complain and miss opportunities that perhaps some other one of them might grab a hold of?” he said.
“I am not going to say it is not rough; it is rough for some businesses in this country, that is true. I also feel that our level of taxation is quite high.
“I would like to see a reduction in my level of taxes. I pay a lot of money in taxes as well. I would like to have a reduction in my Solid Waste Tax, my Consolidated Tax and all the taxes I pay. Quite frankly, sometimes I feel as though I am just working to pay taxes and so too must be many other people in this country. That is the reality I face, but on the other hand I understand and appreciate the fact that there is a prolonged challenge to Government’s finances in terms of our revenue and expenditure and that is not going to be resolved overnight.
“So I certainly empathize with them because I, too, am feeling the pain like anybody else. But we have to recommit ourselves to work together as one big family in Barbados, to pull ourselves up and out and to stay ahead,” said Inniss.
Pointing out that both small and big businesses would be affected due to a reduction in disposable income of consumers, Inniss said business operators should be more proactive.
“We have been in this challenging economic environment for a little while and I think those who are serious about business would have been able to plan and forecast that there would be a dampening in business activities because there is a reduction in disposable income as a result, in part due to the level of taxation that was needed to help address the issue of Government revenue vis-a-vis Government’s expenditure, so that is the general thing about it,” he added.
With respect to foreign investment in business operations here, Inniss said Barbadians should be more receptive.
He said, though, he noticed the issue was not as bad as it was several years ago.
“We sometimes don’t quarrel when [we] have the multinationals coming from North America or Europe to establish here but we quarrel if [they are] coming from next door, from Trinidad.
“So if there are assets available for sale or other forms of acquisition here in Barbados then Barbadians need to acquire them and not sit and complain about others coming in,” said Inniss.