One of the men who will be seeking to unseat Prime Minister Freundel Stuart in the next general election is suggesting that the current Government is not the only thing that urgently needs to be changed, but also the country’s tax system.
Complaining that the average Barbadian is now “taxed to the hilt”, pharmacist Paul Gibson, who has been announced as the Solutions Barbados candidate for St Michael South, is recommending an immediate overhaul of the revenue collection system.
“Right now Barbadians have been cranked and cranked and ratcheted-up in terms of the claims of taxes to a level that we have never seen in the history of our country.
“People are really being burdened. They have less cash flow because they are being taxed to the hilt [and] we in Solutions Barbados believe there are different strategies that can be used to address the economic state of Barbados,” he told Barbados TODAY in an interview yesterday.
Gibson, who will also be facing off against Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate Kirk Humphrey in the next poll, constitutionally due here by the middle of next year, said if given the opportunity to form the next Government, Solutions Barbados would immediately start the process of redress.
“At present there is 25 per cent [personal] taxation, there is the 31 per cent [corporate tax], there is the 17.5 per cent Value Added Tax, there is the ten per cent National Social Responsibility Levy and there is the two per cent tax on foreign exchange transactions,” the 50-year-old Gibson, a father of two young adults, explained.
“We believe as a party the largest corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes, not because they are trying to be evasive, but because the policies of the country permit that you can have a nine-day tax window or you are paying on net profit.”
The St Michael South candidate, who boasts of a strong connection with the people of the sub-urban community some of whom he worshipped with at the People’s Cathedral, said his party, which is hoping to convince Barbadians to break with their tradition of electing either the BLP or the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP), was looking at a model where corporations pay taxes on gross earnings.
“The model has been used in other territories successfully. We believe that the traditional way of taxation in Barbados is not working.”
Gibson also sought to lay blame for the island’s economic situation on past leaders who he said engaged in extensive borrowing, despite advice of international experts for countries to maintain their debt below 40 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP).
Between 2000 and 2008 when the BLP was office, he said, the national debt increased from 40 per cent to 84 per cent of the GDP and since the DLP assumed office in 2008, the debt figure has risen further to 168 per cent of GDP.
At this rate, Gibson warned that in another three years Government would have to repay $631 million to its creditors.