Promoter Wilfred Abrahams has identified the vexing National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) as a strangler of festivals and events here.
Abrahams, the director of Splash, complained that the levy, which climbed from two per cent to ten per cent as of July 1, was like the proverbial noose around the neck of the Crop Over festival, which concluded last night.
“The NSRL . . . has crippled the promoters and producers because most of us would have set our prices months ago. We would have done so without contemplating about an NSRL. You would have ordered your stock, you do everything . . . people would have already bought tickets, so you have no chance of increasing [the price]. Your costs would have gone up by almost 20 per cent,” he told Barbados TODAY during yesterday’s Grand Kadooment.
Splash had erected an all-inclusive tent, providing patrons with all the food and drinks they could have as they watched the bands go through Eagle Hall, St Michael.
Abrahams, an Opposition Barbados Labour Party politician, contended that a large number of promoters had little choice but to absorb additional costs during Crop Over, for which they had not budgeted.
“The reality of it is that if you are an established promoter, you cannot afford to pull a party or event because someone is going to come into your spot. You’ve gotta hold onto your spot on the calendar. A lot of us have taken losses to bring this off for the people,” the promoter said.
The NSRL has been at the centre of a row between Government on one side and the private sector and trade union movement on the opposite side.
Last month, an estimated 20,000 Barbadians responded to a call from the unions and the business community to take to the streets to make their opposition to the onerous tax clear to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and his administration.
Stuart has since agreed to meet the Social Partners, made up of Government, business and labour, to discuss the way forward for the economy, but has been adamant that the levy would remain.
The meeting is scheduled for Friday