With the Crop Over season underway, a local road safety advocate is suggesting that Government a consumer tax on alcoholic beverages.
President of the Barbados Road Safety Association (BRSA) Sharmane Roland-Bowen said such a tax would help reduce the incidence of drink driving during the three-month-long festive season, and would be in line with a similar duty on sweet drinks imposed by Government to help curb obesity.
“The soft drinks will kill the person who is using it but the alcohol will kill the person who is using it, along with other persons . . . that they come into contact with,” the BRSA president told Barbados TODAY.
Reiterating her point, Roland-Bowen said: “You can drink alcohol and come and crash and kill me, but you cannot drink a soft drink and get diabetes and kill me.”
The road safety advocate insisted that the ten per cent tax on soft drinks should be extended to liquor to deter consumers.
“You cannot tax one and not the next; you need to have it across the board. Do not have double standards.
“You want it, you pay more money and see if that would deter some persons from so freely purchasing and using alcohol as well, and it is also looking out for their health as well,” Roland-Bowen added.
With Barbados recording 15 road fatalities for the year so far, Roland-Bowen said she was fearful that the situation would get worse during the upcoming Crop Over season, and she appealed to promoters and bartenders to monitor their customers and ensure their safety as they enjoy mas.
“It is not all about making money, it is about your customers’ safety because the customer can be there drinking and drink too much and go and get killed . . . . When they [the bartenders] feel that they [drinkers] have had enough, stop them completely.”
She also suggested that promoters implement coin operated breathalyzer machines, while advising individuals to buy their own personal breathalyzers.
Roland-Bowen urged revellers to know their limits as they party during the coming months, as one drink could ruin lives.
“We want to make it perfectly clear that you do not have to get drunk to get into a collision. By drinking alcohol you don’t have to be drunk, you only have to be impaired. Alcohol, if you drink it, don’t get behind that wheel. Even if you drink one drink, don’t get behind that wheel.”
Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley had announced in March during debate on the 2017/2018 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure that there would be a “comprehensive overhaul” of legislation governing the transportation sector “hopefully in June”, that would result in better monitoring and inspection of road users and improved tax collection.
Roland-Bowen had earlier dismissed the assurance as “false promises” arguing that if Lashley were serious about bringing legislation by June, the necessary provisions, including breathalyzers, would have been in place.
The road safety advocate today reiterated her stance that the alcohol measuring devices were needed immediately.
“Seeing this season of all this feting and partying, we need the breathalyzer like now . . . we are still hearing that it is coming but we want to hear that it is here,” she insisted.