Independent Senator Toni Moore today warned the Mia Mottley-led Government that if it wants to ensure the support of this island’s workers, it must stick to its promises, learn from the mistakes of the previous administration in implementing the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), and ensure Barbadians know where their tax money goes.
Speaking on the National Social Responsibility Levy (Repeal) Bill, 2018, which she supported “with all the delight, the vigour that I can muster”, the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) general secretary further urged the month-old administration, which assumed office following the May 24 general elections, to be mindful of the opinions of citizens whenever imposing any new taxes.
“I urge that as the Government contemplates a number of other decisions that are to be taken, that it learns from the experience of the NRSL situation,” she said, adding that at all times Government must seek to ensure that “where we commit to spend public funds in a particular direction, spend where people see that monies are being used responsibly . . . for the objectives that have been set [and] for which they will be used”.
“Let us continue to work together to do the very best we can in a very uncomfortable situation,” she added.
On the heels of a $1.2 billion austerity package announced on June 11 by Mottley, who is also the Minister of Finance, the BWU boss also suggested today that the country was on a road to recovery and urged “all our business owners, our workers, citizens of Barbados to take this journey together”.
The leader of the island’s most powerful trade union said that all should join in this ride, “not because it is a journey that is being taken under a particular leadership” but for the reason that it “is being taken at a time where, in many respects, your leadership has been involved in the process, or has had a say – and many of you have had a say.
“Many of our citizens have had a say in defining this journey,” she stressed.
Recalling the circumstances surrounding the Freundel Stuart Government’s implementation of the NSRL she said that unlike what was happening now, there was no talking with workers’ representatives when the tax was first brought in at two per cent two years ago.
“The levy back in 2016 was introduced against the backdrop of no consultation with the trade union movement,” she said, adding that even though the previous Government had met with the unions for consultations 20 days before the NSRL was jacked up to ten per cent, “the idea of a social responsibility levy being increased. . . never came up.
“So that did not form part of the discussion,” the union boss said, stressing that the island’s trades union leadership was as surprised as other residents when then Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced the increase at the end of May 2017.
However, Moore said that “for workers representatives we were most alarmed” because in other parts of the world the term ‘social responsibility’ found in the NSRL meant consultation and accountability.