A Government minister is seeking to distance himself from his own administration’s management of some aspects of the country’s affairs.
Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss today spoke out publicly against Government’s fiscal policies, particularly on the issue of taxation.
And while not pointing fingers directly at Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, Inniss warned the country could not be taxed out of its economic problems, suggesting that high taxes were contributing to a cash flow problem.
Instead, he advised, efforts should be made to remove the stumbling blocks and bureaucratic red tape that prevent the start of a number of projects around the island.
“Step back from that and ask what is the underlying reason for this cash flow issue,” Inniss told the media following the launch of a micro loan facility by the Barbados Public Workers Cooperative Credit Union at its headquarters on Belmont Road, The City this morning.
“We can’t continue to tax our way out of the challenge that we are in. The Minister of Finance has been doing his best in many respects but I believe that the focus has to be on getting some major projects going. I keep hearing all the time about major projects being held up in Government departments around the place.”
The minister also strongly criticized the Barbados Revenue Authority for delays in the processing of Value Added Tax (VAT) returns.
He argued that this issue was having a crippling effect on local businesses.
“My reality is that there are many businesses in Barbados that are in a challenged position because they have not been able to get their [VAT] refund. This is the challenge I face on daily basis.
“We can’t keep talking about these issues, we have to find solutions. We don’t want small businesses to feel as though they can’t expand because they have a cash flow issue arising [from] accounts receivable from Government. I don’t want them to start feeling that they have to beat the system,” Inniss said.
The Member of Parliament for St James South also complained that too many major projects were languishing, not for want of financing, but because of bureaucratic hurdles.
“There are people who want to do business and who have submitted applications to some departments and for some reason can’t get an answer as to what the delay is. I am not going to talk about these things all the time, the Prime Minister has heard my views and he knows how I feel about these matters,” Inniss stressed.
The outspoken minister has increasingly been adopting positions that are either at odds with, or critical of, the administration.
Just last week he cast doubt on the effectiveness of the systems of governance, saying ahead a lecture by former Prime Minister Owen Arthur that Barbadians ought not be happy with the current state of the governance systems.
“It is time that we be bold and ask if we are satisfied with our systems of governance, overall,” the minister said at the forum organized by his St James South constituency council.
He complained last month about the controversial two per cent National Social Responsibility Levy, saying publicly that he had written to Sinckler making it clear the tax ought not be applied to the international business sector; and amidst a row between Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins and businessman Mark Maloney, Inniss complained that entrepreneurs were often frustrated by the Town & Country Planning Department to the point where they felt they had to “take the law into their own hands”.