Democratic Labour Party (DLP) candidate for St Michael North East Damien Griffith is calling for a change in the tax structure to help alleviate the financial burden on the most vulnerable citizens.
Speaking at a spot meeting in Bush Hall on Wednesday night, Griffith told supporters that although the current administration was highly critical of the previous National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) which the then DLP government placed on goods imported into Barbados and on domestically manufactured goods, the levies and taxes that effectively replaced it have put a heavier burden on Barbadians, particularly the poorest in society.
“Much was made about the NSRL; it was blamed for everything under the sun and every problem that we had, but, in reality, the NSRL was a fairer tax and the economists now say this. The burden of that tax was not placed on the poorest people; instead, it was a tax that was absorbed by businesses and in part passed onto the consumers, but no one alone bore the brunt of the tax,” Griffith said.
“We are now faced with a water bill that went in the last three and a half years from $30 minimum to about $85 minimum,” he added.
Given the higher cost of living being experienced by citizens in the wake of the pandemic, with prices on goods continuing to rise, Griffith said more must be done to curb the trend, as the most vulnerable Barbadians, such as the elderly and disabled who operate on fixed incomes, are now tasked with surviving on reduced savings.
“Now you have elderly people making $1,400 a month having to pay utilities, having to buy food, and then not being able to make ends meet to do anything else. We cannot be a strong community unless we have a system in place to take care of the elderly,” he said.
“We need to create systems where each of our vulnerable groups are empowered, and through that, pull the entire community up.” (SB)