There seems to be no end to concerns over Government’s controversial two per cent National Social Responsibility Levy introduced just over two months ago.
Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss Friday revealed that the international business community was worried about the tax, first announced in the 2016 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
Without saying what those concerns were, Inniss told the 23rd annual conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre he had written to Sinckler making it clear the tax ought not be applied to the international business sector.
“If we take for example, the National Social Responsibility Levy that we recently introduced . . . I am very mindful that the implementation has been fraught with some challenges.
“That is why for example, with respect of the international business sector, I have written to, and indicated to my colleague, the Minister of Finance, and others, that my interpretation of the legislation that governs that particular sector makes it clear that that levy should not be applicable to the industry in particular,” the minister said.
Speaking on the theme, Barbados at 50: Reaching Beyond This Horizon, Inniss said an area of concern for him was “the matter of clarity and consistency in [Government] policies”, adding: “I cannot bury my head in the sand and say it is not a significant issue.”
In September Inniss had indicated that clarity was needed on the implementation of the levy after manufacturers had expressed concern about its impact on the sector.
He had said at the time the levy had created a level of uncertainty “which merits me and the Finance Minister having a conversation and giving clear guidelines”.
About a week later Sinckler had announced that after meeting with manufacturers their concerns over the point at which the new two per cent tax would be applied had been resolved.
And just last month it appeared that some local retailers were just as clueless about the tax and how it should be applied, prompting the Barbados Revenue Authority to issue a strong word of warning that the tax was not be applied at points of sale, as such a move was “illegal”.
Inniss Friday said he was certain any outstanding concerns were being adequately addressed.
“Certainly the Barbados Revenue Authority continues to be available to address any concerns that one may have. I think we have addressed most of the concerns. There are a few left and they are very much being addressed as we go forward,” the minister assured.
The new tax is to be applied on the customs value of all imports, excluding goods for the manufacturing, agriculture and tourism sectors, to avoid double taxation.
It is expected to raise more than $140 million which Government said would go towards funding the island’s health care and sanitation services.