Predicting that it will happen “for the first time in history”, the former Democratic Labour Party MP for St Michael West Central James Paul has said that Barbados will record “negative growth” at the hands of the Barbados Labour Party administration.
“The Democratic Labour Party has nothing to be ashamed of. We were able to get growth despite the challenges,” said Paul.
He described the measures introduced by the four-month BLP government as “recessionary”.
“For the first time in the past five years we are going to see negative growth and that is something that no one is speaking about, no one is saying anything about,” Paul said, using the economics term to describe a shrinkage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the total value of goods and services in an economy.
He argued that while the DLP government had been heavily criticized for overtaxing the country the BLP had now “done the same”, suggesting the raft of tax measures imposed by the BLP government was a heavier burden than the DLP’s controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) and Garbage Tax combined.
“The same BLP said when we imposed the same tax claimed that Barbados was then overtaxed. Now we are seeing from the last measures that . . . the amount of taxation is even more than the NSRL and the Garbage Tax combined,” he said.
Paul, who was speaking to party supporters at a branch meeting of the St James South constituency, was joined by DLP President Verla Depeiza who declared shock at hearing that the BLP was implementing an array of taxes when it criticized the DLP for attempting to tax a country out of a recession.
“When we were introducing certain measures we were told repeatedly that you cannot tax your way out of a recession. So imagine my shock and [astonishment] that I am taxed some more. Calling it something different does not make it any less of a tax and I am speaking particularly now to the fuel levy,” Depeiza said.
She noted that the Fuel Tax did not allow anyone to escape, claiming that it had people from all segments in the society caught in a stranglehold.
“Whatever bus fare increase is granted will need to consider if not completely face the cries of the Public Service Vehicles…. They have found their bill multiplying . . . . The taxis, the minibuses, the ZR’s, your grocery bill, fishermen because the boats don’t use the road but they use fuel. The agricultural sector, some of them are heavily dependent on water, especially animal-based husbandry. You cannot let your plants run to ruin despite all that is said landscaping is an investment.
“So there is no escaping the fuel tax it is all-encompassing and I do not even want to say all-embracing because an embrace is a comfortable thing this is a bear hug, a stranglehold; that is what the fuel tax is,” Depeiza said.
She suggested that “more pressure” lay ahead with the full impact of the current taxation measures in addition to the introduction of October 1 of the Health Levy, VAT on online transactions, and a tax on private tourist accommodation, and the “Airbnb” tax.
“The little incremental additions to our tax burden add up over time,” said Depeiza. “We will also see the impact on the tourism sector as the taxes that have been applied there come fully onstream.
The DLP leader said she would reserve further commentary on the tax burden until the additional measures are in place.
“But we do know of a certainty is more taxation than we had before and all has not come as yet,” she said.