The umbrella Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations (CTUSAB) has described new tax measures announced by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler in this week’s Budget as “alarming”.
In a statement today, CTUSAB said it was inconceivable that in a contracted economy, where there was evidence of an increasing high level of unemployment, inflation and trending poverty, the Government would move to inflict further pressure on Barbadians at this time.
It is especially concerned about the impact of the Budget on the working class, particularly public sector workers, who have not had a salary increase since 2009.
“The Congress is of the view that the workers of Barbados will have to contemplate whether under this continued onslaught on their purchasing power, they can remain constrained in their demands for wages and salary increases.”
CTUSAB also zeroed in on the plight facing property owners, pointing out that in addition to the environmental levy and controversial Municipal Solid Waste Tax, they were now faced with an increase in land taxes.
The umbrella grouping for the island’s trade unions also warned that even with the pending repeal of the Solid Waste Tax, property owners were not expected to see any real ease the magnitude of their tax burden.
CTUSAB also expressed dismay over Government’s planned removal of personal allowances, which the working class population enjoyed under Income Tax benefits. It pointed out that the removal of mortgage interest was expected to be felt by many middle income home owners and that the removal of pension plan contributions from the list of personal allowances offered little incentive to employees to make preparation for their retirement.
And with Income Tax allowances and deductions being significantly reduced, as well as the imposition of a range of new taxes measures, it is warning Government that these would add to the stress faced by the middle and lower income groups, who already have reduced purchasing power.
On the whole CTUSAB said the 2015/2016 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals fell “well short” of its expectations.
It was particularly disappointed that the Budget failed to adequately address the all-important issue of the recovery and growth of the Barbadian economy.
“CTUSAB strongly urges the Government to identify a set of clearly defined strategies that would enable economic activity to be increased, to significantly reduce the foreign debt, and to provide incentives to encourage the private sector to embark on new projects outside of housing development,” the statement added.