The Mia Mottley-led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Government is being accused of stifling Barbadian taxpayers with its $1.2 billion austerity budget introduced on Monday.
The United Progressive Party (UPP) is charging that the new administration is following in the footsteps of the defeated Democratic Labour Party of ousted Prime Minister Freundel Stuart by seeking to raise revenue through taxation.
UPP leader Lynette Eastmond contended that while the BLP administration has fulfilled some of its manifesto promises such as the removal of the much-hated National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) and tuition fees for students pursuing undergraduate studies at the University of the West Indies, this came at a hefty price to Barbadians.
“Lower and middle-income Barbadians, and especially small business owners, have worked hard to keep their heads above water. They now face the prospect of increased taxes with little relief coming to them,” Eastmond said in a press release today in reference to the taxes announced by Mottley, including a fuel tax of 40 cents per litre on gasoline and diesel and five cents per litre on kerosene, to replace the road tax, Value Added Tax on online transactions and the Garbage and Sewage Contribution (GSC), which Eastmond described as a rebranded version of the short-lived Municipal Solid Waste Tax.
The GSC will be charged at a flat fee of $1.50 per day no matter the size of the household, although pensioners who live alone will be charged 75 cents a day.
While acknowledging the removal of the NSRL effective July 1, Eastmond questioned why a similar decision was not taken on the two per cent foreign exchange levy imposed last September, which she said resulted in an increase of the cost of all imported items.
Eastmond also accused the new administration of failing to address the crisis in the international business sector, while charging that the future of sector was bleak due to the absence of leadership.
“Whether or not Barbados can raise $60 million because of the attempt to address new international tax rules is mere speculation. It is not a lack of reports that has caused problem in the sector, it has floundered because of a lack of leadership and it seems as though this will be the case going forward,” she continued.
On another note, the UPP leader stressed that a Freedom of Information Act should be a priority for the new administration in light of revelations that a number of contracts were signed after Parliament was dissolved in early March.
“Since this new administration took office we have been told about the contracts which were signed after the Parliament had come to an end but yet Barbadians do not know the beneficiaries of these contracts. Transparency is the key to the reduction of corruption in Barbados,” she emphasized.