As the government moves to improve its tax collection systems, Head of the Barbados Private Sector Association Trisha Tannis is warning that if it is done incorrectly, business in Barbados will grind to a halt.
While she agrees with the need to stop any leakage of tax revenue, Tannis said the challenge will come with implementation of the new initiatives outlined by Prime Minister Mia Mottley in her presentation of the 2023-2024 budget.
The PM said that from April 1, in a bid to stop the abuse of the duty-free system, the Customs Department over the next two fiscal years will conduct audits to reduce tax expenditures by at least 20 per cent.
Tannis told those gathered at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre for the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s post-budget discussion, “We already have an extremely friction-filled business environment as far as facilitation. Some of the measures that we heard, whilst laudable, threaten if we are not careful, to crank that even tighter.
“When we speak of duty-free audits, concessionary audits before persons and entities can benefit from those initiatives, we have to be very careful that we have resourced these things, that we are very pellucid on the policies and procedures and that we don’t end up grinding these businesses and sectors to a halt because of poor implementation.
“So we share a concern that in our efforts to make our collection systems more efficient and to plug the holes which we need to do, we need to do so in a way that is frictionless, seamless and very easy to do,” she stressed.
Saying the 24-hour economy has been on the social partnership agenda for years, Tannis noted it will be no easy feat to bring to fruition “a societal re-engineering that we have not seen since November 1966”.
“When we speak about a 24-hour economy there is so much that needs to change, not least of all, our mindset towards productivity, our mindset towards labour law and how we engage with each other. The Prime Minister will no doubt very quickly announce her vision on the mission economy and how that supports the new industrial policy that will run alongside things like the 24-hour economy,” Tannis added.