At least one senior academic is not about to entirely dismiss the Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) highly criticized manifesto.
Though warning that political parties had to be careful not to engage in any bait-and-switch schemes as they seek to entice the electorate to vote for them in the May 24 general election, Director and Senior Fellow at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute Dr Don Marshall told Barbados TODAY he felt that some aspects of the BLP’s plan were workable, while others just required a little bit of rejigging.
“So I think a little tweaking here or there would suffice to make it more realistic,” Marshall said.
During its manifesto launch on Thursday night in Kingsland, Christ Church, BLP economic advisor Clyde Mascoll explained that the party would abolish road tax and make it a requirement for vehicle owners to pay a small tax on gas.
He also said that it was the BLP’s plan to increase non-contributory pension, remove tuition fees for Barbadians studying at the University of the West Indies (UWI), remove the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), and reduce the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 17.5 per cent back to 15 per cent, should that party form the next Government.
Reacting to the news today, Marshall told Barbados TODAY the planned removal of the NSRL was not a good strategy and since Government still needed to raise revenue, reprofiling the country’s debt was simply not enough.
“I think if the Barbados Labour Party
becomes the Government it would do well to use the confidence provided by a new mandate, to think through the tax strategy that in the short-term would not lessen what we are currently taking in. I don’t think it needs to go towards a bait-and-switch strategy to woo voters. I think Barbadians are well advised and appreciate the need to bring in some revenue. There may be some ease in one or two areas, but certainly . . . abolishing the NSRL, that is not a good strategy,” Marshall insisted.
The international political economist said while the plan to remove tuition fees for Barbadians studying at the UWI seemed attractive, it could do with some alteration.
“The tuition fee could be a useful strategy. You could engage in a conversation of students paying back afterwards . . . . [It] would be to suggest restoring the full 100 per cent, but asking students to pay upon completion of their degree, the fees they are currently asked to pay, before starting their programmes,” he explained.
Marshall however suggested that whichever administration forms the next Government “it will be a point for them to meet with key personnel from the United Progressive Party and Solutions Barbados to discuss plans on the way forward”.
“I don’t think any of the leaders of the parties could pretend that they have all the answers, nor do I think they would want to appoint International Monetary Fund officials to do the imagining for them,” he said, while cautioning that the public sector should be repurposed before any attempt to cut expenditure.