The Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP) has high praise for Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mia Mottley’s June 11 Budget in which old age pensions were hiked from $155 to $225 per week, amounting to $18 million more per year.
Apart from the increase of the non-contributory old age pensions, Mottley also announced a five per cent hike in public sector salaries and wages and the repeal of tuition fees for students attending the University of the West Indies.
The $1.2 million austerity package also included several new taxes, including a new fuel tax, which is to be levied at a rate of 40 cents per litre of petrol and diesel and five cents per litre on kerosene effective July 1, 2018.
Effective October 1, 2018 Government will also introduce a Health Service Contribution at a rate of 2.5 per cent, as well as a new Garbage and Sewage Contribution to be levied through Barbados Water Authority bills at $1.50 per household per day.
Effective October 1, all online transactions undertaken by Barbadian residents will also be subjected to Value Added Tax, while corporation tax will increase from 25 per cent to 30 per cent effective July 1.
However, BARP President Edward Bushell told Barbados TODAY while the Budget may have spelt bitter medicine for some, his 45,000 members were generally satisfied that “the Prime Minister did the best she could with what she had available to her”.
He also praised the two-week-old Government for keeping her general election campaign and manifesto promises to pensioners and for moving swiftly to protect the vulnerable as it implements its three-year austerity programme.
“In light of the other measures that have been taken, the raising of pensions would help to a great extent,” he stressed, adding that BARP also stood firmly behind the imposition of the new Health Service Contribution, which will see to the expansion of the Accident & Emergency Service.
“The imposition of the health tax that goes to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), we strongly support and we are in agreement that is goes directly to the QEH and does not go into the Consolidated Fund,” Bushell said.
However, he expressed the hope that the new Garbage and Sewage Contribution would only be a temporary imposition.
“The fact of the matter is that we have a major sewage problem that has to be taken care of. We would hope that the measure is a temporary measure; that the $1.50 per day would remain for as long as it is necessary to get the sewage system fixed, . . . . but once that is fixed, we would expect the imposition to be removed,” Bushell said, while commending Government for engaging the Social Partnership on the way forward.