The Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) suggests the 2015/2016 Budget, though not the worst, could have been better.
BPSA chairman Alex McDonald told Barbados TODAY shortly after the umbrella agency of private sector organizations held a meeting this evening to discuss the Government’s financial measures, the Budget failed to address fundamental issues holding back growth.
“As we look at the Budget we are very clear, the Budget took 200 million dollars out of the economy in taxes and put four million dollars back in gifts.
“We have not seen a real attempt at addressing the cost of Government which is one of the big things that is holding us back.
He insisted that Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler should have used the occasion to lay the groundwork for serious dialogue on future growth.
“There were a lot of areas that we thought could have been looked at and some attention paid in term of reducing the cost and improving the efficiency within Government. We thought it would be a useful time that we would have seen a clear outline of an agenda to some of the things that have really been bedeviling us over that time.”
Opposition Barbados Labour Party spokesman on economic matters, Dr Clyde Mascoll argued the Budget would not lead to any growth in the foreseeable future and he cautioned that businesses and households would suffer fallout.
“Businesses have been hard hit. They have been asked to pay substantial taxes in this Budget as well. But my major concern is the extent to which the Budget is going to affect homeowners and households.”
The economist was not bowled over by the changes to the Income Tax rate, suggesting Barbadians would lose out since the change was “not going to offset the increase tax liability that Barbados will see as a result of this Budget.
“This has been difficult for Barbadians,” Mascoll said.
Also appearing on the television panel with Mascoll tonight, Senior Vice President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, businessman Eddie Abed said the revenue-earning Budget was not a surprise for the business community given the fact that the Government still had a long way to go to reduce its deficit.
However, he made a case for the Government to strike the right balance.
“What continues to concern the business community is two-fold, how do you police a lot of these new taxes? And we have been told that there is going to be $30 million dollars removed in costs from the expense side and we think that needs to be increased considerably. We can’t continue to live way beyond our means and expect that it will be financed by the middle class, the business class and I dare say by every homeowner in this country.”
But Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Senator Jepter Ince maintained the Budget should give Barbadians a sense of satisfaction since the economy was showing clear signs of recovery after Government implemented strong measures to effectively manage the country.
“We said that we were going to protect the most vulnerable, we were going to continue critical services and the results are there, the economy is turning the bend and I am confident that Barbadians are going to be proud of this administration and what we have achieved today,” Ince insisted.