Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture Stephen Lashley believes Barbadians have become too dependent on foreign foods.
Speaking at today’s launch of the Community Independence Celebrations Secretariat’s Mini Parks and Gardens Competition, Lashley said: “We have a taste now for everything that is foreign and it bears a cost in relation to the utilization of our scarce foreign reserves.
“Unless we pay keen attention to that and unless every citizen in Barbados makes a deliberate effort to consume locally produced food . . . unless we make a great effort to shift our consumption patterns and unless we can generate more foreign exchange, Barbados as a country will continue to have problems in terms of our balance of payments, our foreign reserves and our ability to earn foreign exchange,” he added.
Lashley also defended his administration’s 2017 Financial Statements and Budgetary Proposals which included the introduction of a two per cent tax on foreign exchange and a 500 per cent hike in the National Social Responsibility Levy effective July 1.
“The Government does not impose taxes willy nilly. Taxes are imposed to pay for goods and services,” he said.
“Everything we are doing here is related to our economy, the protection of our environment, the growing of local foods and the consumption of local foods is very much related to our ability to pay our way in the world and we have to be conscious of it,” he stressed.
The Government minister said it was time for Barbadians to revive the traditional practices of kitchen gardening or small scale farming to help ease the current economic burden, adding that the Mini Parks and Gardens Competition was the initial step towards a solution.
“I think the competitions are meant to be a wake-up call to try and get us back to those traditional practices of growing some of our food and the most significant message that has to be sent is that we have to become aware that we are spending money on foreign foods and therefore what we have to do is translate that into taxes. We are paying more taxes because of these practices,” he said.
“Let each household grow a kitchen garden or use some tyres to have some controlled kitchen gardening that we redouble our efforts to buying local foods [and] supporting local production,” Lashley added.