Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) MP Edmund Hinkson is concerned that Barbadians are not giving as they used to.
And he has cast the blame squarely at the feet of the ruling Freundel Stuart administration, following its removal of several tax incentives in last year’s Budget.
“Now you could only give one donation which will be tax incentivized, [so] if you give your church, you would not be able to get tax incentives if you give a Lions Club, or the Salvation Army,” noted Hinkson, who described the recent budgetary move as “a backward, retrogressive step”.
He also said the changes go against the grain of the Barbadian spirit of volunteerism, arguing that with the economy still in recession there needed to be a financial incentive for people to donate to multiple groups.
However, he accused the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration of dismantling the system that allowed for the granting of tax incentives for multiple donations, which he said was supported by the previous BLP Government.
“The late [Prime Minister and DLP leader] David Thompson enhanced that position by making it even easier for persons who gave donations to charitable organizations to get tax incentives,” he added.
Warning that Government alone could not meet all development needs of communities, Hinkson said, “any Government of Barbados must try to promote volunteerism in its citizens.
“There has to be a case where people who have benefitted from this good society feel that they have an obligation to put back into the community where they came from, church, school, University of the West Indies, their country as a whole.”
The MP made the call as he addressed the graduation ceremony of participants in a training programme of the Clarkson Foundation of which he is patron.
Twenty young people in Hinkson’s St James North constituency graduated from training that enabled them to pursue self-employment or find jobs, but in announcing plans for another training programme, the MP voiced a concern that donations to his three-year-old organization may dwindle because of the current tax disincentive.