The legal entity charged with representing the interests of the agricultural sector wants Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler to provide tax concessions or some other benefits to reward companies that support local farmers.
The Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS), led by Government backbencher James Paul, said such concessions would spur growth of the sector.
“One of the big things I would like to see really is that some measures be implemented that would encourage greater support on the part of the private sector for locally produced agriculture commodities,” Paul told Barbados TODAY.
“I think even in terms of future benefits or tax concessions given to businesses in the retail sector for instances, or in manufacturing or hospitality, should be tied to the extent to which they support the local productive sectors. I really think at this stage we would see more growth in the local agriculture sector.”
The BAS chief complained that at present local enterprises that receive concessions are not obligated to support agriculture, therefore they had no incentives to create greater linkages.
“I think that needs to change and I would like to see something put in the Budget that will help to facilitate that change,” he said.
However, with Government’s track record of a slow implementation process, it is not clear how soon any concessions would become a reality even if Paul’s wish were to be granted in the May 30 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals.
Two years after it was first promised, dairy farmers are yet to see legislation enacted to allow for a cess to be placed on imported milk.
In his June 15, 2015 Budget, Sinckler had announced that effective August 1, 2015 Government would apply a cess on imported milk.
This, he said at the time, would have been levied at two rates – five per cent on milk containing no less than 60 per cent of liquid cow’s milk and ten per cent on all other milk and milk substitute products.
The legislation to facilitate that measure is still not completed, despite promises from Sinckler in April 2016 that the wait could be over in a matter of weeks.