The House of Assembly this evening approved the financial statement and budgetary proposals presented by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mia Mottley on Monday, with Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley joining with the 28 Government members who were in their seats at the time to ensure its smooth passage.
Visibly-absent from the Chamber was Mottley, who the House was told by Attorney General and Minister Legal Affairs Dale Marshall, was off to Washington for meetings with President of the International Monetary Fund Christine LaGarde.
Mottley is leading a delegation which includes Ambassador Clyde Mascoll, Central Bank Governor Cleviston Haynes and Director of Finance Ian Carrington.
“This meeting is to carry on the work that has started over the last three weeks by an extraordinarily hardworking team of BLP front benchers, civil servants and the best financial advice Barbados can afford, all of which will ensure Barbados comes out of the abyss it has found itself in after ten years of Democratic Labour Party rule,” Marshall said in closing off debate on the $1.2 billion austerity package presented by the two-week-old Government.
During his speech, Marshall, the Member of Parliament for St Joseph, also sought to provide a clearer timeline on the implementation of pensions, as well as income tax and corporate tax increases.
“I have been asked to indicate that the non-contributory pensions will be paid by the 9th of July, and within the next two weeks, we will put the relevant amendments to the Income Tax and Corporate Tax structure to bring certainty to the budgetary announcements made by the Prime Minister,’ Marshall said before the three-day debate was brought to an end.
Atherley had warned in his reply yesterday that the “excessive” tax measures contained in Mottley’s mini Budget were counterproductive and would inflict further pain on an already overtaxed population, resulting in a backlash.
These include a tax on gasoline, diesel and kerosene, that replaces the abolished road tax, effective July 1, 2018.
The Opposition Leader had argued that though the idea behind the removal of the road tax was to avoid people having to pay a lump sum to the Licensing Authority, with the fuel levy drivers were now being forced to pay a “little” every time they filled up at the pump.
He also argued that while the National Social Responsibility Levy, which was increased from two per cent to ten per cent on the customs value of goods under the previous Government, had had the effect of dampening consumer spending, its replacements would be equally deleterious.