One of the island’s leading political scientists is describing as “harsh” and “brutal”, the measures announced Tuesday by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler in the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals.
While pollster Peter Wickham gave Sinckler credit for attempting to balance the budget, he said the various revenue raising initiatives would be hard on Barbadians, who had already been complaining of being overtaxed.
“The Budget was harsh and although I take comfort that [Sinckler] attempted to balance the budget, the reality is that a balanced budget in an environment such as this is brutal,” Wickham said in an immediate reaction to Tuesday’s presentation.
Among those anticipated to be most taxing on Barbadians are a rise from two per cent to ten per cent in the National Social Responsibility Levy introduced last September, a two per cent tax on the purchase of foreign exchange, including credit card charges, and a rise in the excise on fuel.
Like Sinckler, Wickham said these measures would “lead to a massive increase in our cost of living.
“I do not think that I have ever seen such a significant increase over the course of one year and I am interested to see the analysis of this by economist over a period.”
Barbadians wasted little time expressing their views on the financial plan, with the anticipated increase in the cost of living their primary concern, although some felt the minister of little choice.
Supermarket shopper Andre Devonish said the measures came as no surprise because of the economic hole in which the country found itself.
“I expected this kind of thing because there is like a $200 million hole that you have to cover for the lost revenue from offshore taxes, so I expected us to get taxed, but this is a little excessive. This could be real hard on somebody; people have to tighten their belt much more,” Devonish told Barbados TODAY.
For Roger Worrell, also a supermarket shopper, it was like being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
“As consumers none of us really want to see an increase of taxes of any form, and we will feel the burden at the supermarket that will affect how much money we have.
“Although we are burdened and we are looking for some level of relief we have to look at what is best for the country. Some people won’t necessarily agree with it but hard decisions have to be made.”
Repeating Sinckler’s words that the current situation was similar to that experienced in the early 1990s under the then Erskine Sandiford (now Sir Lloyd) administration, Worrell said Government might be doing what it felt was best for the country, although it might not appear so to the regular man on the street
“It’s something good from an economic standpoint but the average person don’t think economics.”
However, car owner Ramon Blunte was simply unhappy with the measures, question the wisdom of introducing the fuel tax effective July 1 this year.
“It is not something I am happy about, and I want to know why the sudden increase because it’s been fluctuating a lot recently,” he said of petrol prices.
“I didn’t expecting nothing better from this Government that they put in , I just hope that we as people realize what happening and vote out the D’s and vote in the B’s” he added.