One of the key planks of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) election campaign is proving unpopular with taxi operators in Broad Street, Bridgetown.
The BLP’s pledge to abolish road tax and replace it with a tax on petrol is not going down well with the taxi drivers, some of whom have dismissed it as an election gimmick.
“It is total nonsense because public service vehicles going to have problems. I have no problem paying road tax when the year comes and then putting in gas in my car,” one operator who referred to himself as Rockweller told Barbados TODAY.
“She [BLP leader Mia Mottley] is making promises that she cannot keep. She is making madman promises. I feel she going mad. She promising things, but one minute you saying that the country in this amount of debt and then all of a sudden you can do all of these things. She gine mad, that is what I have to say,” he stressed.
The sentiments among those who spoke to Barbados TODAY, most of them anonymously, were similar.
The general feeling was that the BLP was seeking to attract votes by offering carrots that could not be sustained.
“I feel it is just a catch to get votes. I believe that to remove the tax from vehicles will do some serious damage. So I do not feel that that one gine make sense. It is a political catch. It might not materialize,” one driver, who did not want to be identified, said.
Clyde Mascoll, the BLP’s economic
advisor, said at the launch of the party’s manifesto last Thursday night that the road tax would be replaced by a fairer tax on petrol, which would ensure that those who made greater use of the island’s road bear the greater burden.
“We are abolishing the road tax. However, we can’t be irresponsible so what we are going to do is shift the tax towards the business community. Those people, who use the road most, should pay most. It is called equity and justice. We are going to transfer the road tax to a small tax on fuel so those that are on the road all day with heavy vehicles would pay proportionally,” Mascoll said.
However, one taxi operator who identified himself as Tony, said the petrol tax would be particularly damaging to those involved in freighting and the taxi service.
“I would say that road tax done is bear foolishness for the average taxi person and the persons who doing shovelling and those sort of things. It is going to be an expense to those persons. Also, persons who doing freighting it is going to be an expense to those persons,” Tony said, while suggesting that the cost of living would increase significantly.
“Automatically the cost of living will go up because businesses that used to do freighting and so on will put on a charge for that. So automatically you are saying it is an expense to them. So they are going to be saying ‘it is an expense to us, so we have to get back our money’. I think they have to reconsider that,” he said, adding that the incumbent Democratic Labour Party had already imposed taxes on petroleum products.
“Right now this present Government has put tax on it so I guess if that is the way they got to go, that is the way that they have to go. But if you say that you are going to finish with road tax and put it towards gas it is a no-no. It is not a good thing at all and I think they need to rethink that.”