Just as Government announced a planned roll back of the National Social Responsibility Levy on selected food items, one retailer is demanding similar consideration for mobile phones and other such electronic items.
However, Government, through Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Telecommunications Senator Darcy Boyce has flatly dismissed the request.
“Everybody has to carry some burden in this society,” Boyce said in response to an appeal by Chief Executive Officer of PromoTech Kailash Pardasani at the launch this week of Barbados’ first Internet governance forum at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination.
The two-day event being held at the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business aims to provide Barbadians from all sectors with a platform to discuss how they use the Internet and the most pertinent issues affecting them.
Delivering the feature address at the reception, Boyce said the request by Pardasani, who as a forum sponsor had spoken earlier, was “an ongoing song” by the phone and Internet and communications technology companies “for us to take off all duties on these things”.
“Who will take the burden that you now carry [if Government grants the request]?” Boyce asked the PromoTech executive.
Pardasani had advised Government to follow the lead of countries that have placed “priority on removing these taxes and to make all smart phones duty-free so that we Barbadians can continue having access to the best technology that is available.
“We understand that tough decisions have to be made by the Government in order to sustain viability, however taxing duty-free items such as laptops and desktops, and also further taxing devices such as smart phones only hinder our long-term growth as a country,” he argued.
He contended that for Barbados to remain economically viable, “we will have to continue to think and compete globally and that means raising standards, keeping up with technology, incorporating innovation”.
The businessman stressed that instead of placing taxes on every technological gadget, the Freundel Stuart administration should focus on increasing productivity and efficiency, making it easier to do business here and utilizing technology “to its fullest in order to transform tomorrow today”.