On a day when several Bridgetown businesses shut their doors temporarily to allow their workers to participate in the march against Government’s austerity measures, one of the leaders of the private sector went against the norm.
The fabric store Abed’s, owned by President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Eddy Abed, remained open throughout the morning.
However, while thousands of Barbadians, some in uniform, took to the streets in a bid to press Government to compromise on the taxing National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), Abed’s was far from overflowing with shoppers when Barbados TODAY visited.
Store Manager Hassan Towini would not comment, however, Abed had said last week that the march, led by the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) and four of the island’s leading trade unions, did not have the BCCI’s full support.
Abed had been insisting also on the need for tripartite dialogue, and for Government to explore alternatives to its recently announced austerity Budget, which he said “gives us the pain”.
It was normal in Speighstown as well, as businesses kept their doors open to customers.
There were no signs that anyone there was protesting, a sharp contrast to the determined crowds that filled Bridgetown.
Meanwhile, a handful of businesses in the Warrens area were closed, among them Promotech and clothing store Upbeat.
When Barbados TODAY visited the Dome Mall, a notice posted on the entrance of Promotech stated: “We trust this will result positively towards the goal of the BPSA which is to engage in meaningful dialogue with the Government of Barbados regarding the recent tax increase and together [forge] strategies towards a game plan for the greater benefit of all Barbadians.”
The notice also stated that the NSRL would impact on the cost of doing business as “with many other items these new taxes apply to all technologies such as laptops, desktops and tablets which were previously duty-free prior to July 1 2017. We want Barbadians to always have access to the best technology that exists especially since technology is one major known worldwide driving force for a country’s growth and innovation”.
However, while Massy Distribution had indicated it would allow its staff to join the protest, Massy Supermarkets remained open during the hours of the march.
An estimated 20,000 people took part in the protest, led by the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, the Barbados Union of Teachers, the Barbados Workers’ Union and the National Union of Public Workers, with support from the BPSA.