The pending hike in the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) may not affect how much revellers pay to jump on Kadooment Day this year, but it will have bandleaders digging deeper into their pockets this Crop Over.
The NSRL, which was introduced last September, will increase from two to ten per cent from July 1, and some bandleaders say they will more than likely have to absorb the cost.
Richard Haynes of Baje International told Barbados TODAY that since costumes for the season had already been priced, the band would have to take on the extra cost alone, although he could not say exactly how much that would be.
“Like most businesses, it will impact on us . . . . It’s still too early to tell because it goes into effect July 1 and we do have to import some raw materials as always, and they would be landing in Barbados after July 1,” he said.
“This year, the impact would be on Baje because obviously we have already priced our products, so we can’t pass it on to our customers. So, from that standpoint, consumers definitely wouldn’t have any increase in price this year.”
At the same time, Haynes expressed the hope that the Cultural Industries Development Act (CIDA) would be able to assist masqueraders, if not now, in the near future.
“We are working very closely with the Cultural Industries Development Act. They’re supposed to be provisions for preferential treatment on duties and stuff like that. Hopefully, that would help the situation somewhat. We are in the process of officially registering [under] CIDA and I would encourage all the other cultural practitioners to also do so because they’re major advantages that you get once you are registered.”
Chetwyn Stewart of Power X Four said his band would also have to absorb all costs from the increased tax as it was trying to keep costumes at affordable prices.
“As producers and stuff, you want to be able to bring in the materials and so on without any taxes. I can only speak from Power X Four’s end; we would have to absorb the costs because the consumers can’t take anything else right now,” he said.
Stewart had already made efforts to cut spending this year to keep prices within reach of Barbadians, opting out of the traditional band launch this year and using social media instead.
“Normally that launch would cost about $60,000 to do properly. So I will take that money now and reduce the backline costumes. Our backlines are probably under US$300. We are trying to get the locals back out on the road. The hotels are full and foreigners are coming in but a lot of the locals can’t afford to jump now. Power X Four is making an effort to get the locals back on the road,” he added.
Mackie Holder of Wednesday 2000 said he expected everything to be affected by the newly increased NSRL.
“Everything coming through the port would be hit and on top of that the VAT [Value Added Tax] and so on. So everything is gong to be passed on. There is no escape,” he said.
The seasoned bandleader said, however, that he is trying not to increase the price of his costumes this year.
“I don’t know that I will increase my costumes just yet. I’m looking at it but I don’t think I’m going to do that. I’m going to find some other ways to get around that, because at the end of the day the marketplace can only bare so much. There’s a point at which people just cannot afford it and that’s the mass of people,” he said.
While acknowledging the recent $50,000 increase in the subvention for the Barbados Association of Masqueraders (BAM) and an additional $30,000 in prize money which bands will be vying for this year, Holder said one of his greatest disappointments in the Budget presented by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler last week was that there was “no mention of anything that brings in revenue and one of the very few things that bring in revenue is Crop Over”.