Wednesday, Mar 20, 2019

Parliament debates the budget

Parliament debates the budget
12 Jun

The Mia Mottley led administration has been criticized by the leader of the opposition Bishop Joseph Atherley for a number of measures outlined in the new government's mini-budget aimed at rescuing Barbados.

During his reply to the mini-budget he said it lacks any significant meaningful outline of growth strategies.

Bishop Atherley says though the BLP has stuck to a promise to repeal the National Social Responsibility Levy, it has replaced it with a raft of other impositions which he says will affect economic activity.

Among those identified, the fuel levy and the Garbage and Sewage Tax.

On the latter, he says it will not only result in increased water bills but impact on the island's employment thrust.

The opposition leader spoke out against increases in Corporation Tax and others in the tourism sector including what he termed the hefty increase in departure tax.

Bishop Atherley however supports measures announced, including the tax on the shared accommodation sector and welcomes relief for the elderly.

And with the recent news of the appointment of Whiteoak Advisory Limited to act as a financial advisor, the opposition leader wants the new government to tell Barbados more about the company and how much it's costing the country to engage it.

He thinks regional governments should focus attention on reducing the cost of travel by elimination of impositions placed by states on airline travel tickets.

Bishop Atherley believes the increase in departure tax has wide-ranging implications for regional airline, LIAT.

Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn says that though the coming months may be tough, his ministry will set the island's economy on track.

He says the mini budgetary proposals mark a watershed moment for the country as all Barbadians and its international partners must be a part of the island's rescue plan.

There's a call for a development strategy that focuses on using the blue economy to its fullest extent.

Minister with responsibility for this portfolio, Kirk Humphrey says this sector has key role to play in bringing Barbados out of the economic doldrums.

He points to a recent statement by the Caribbean Development Bank speaking about the need to provide financing for the blue economy as an indication of its growing importance.

Mr Humphrey, the St Michael South representative says he's already seen positive signs with the use of Sargassum seaweed.

And St John MP, Charles Griffith has acknowledged that some of the policies introduced in the mini budget will be difficult, but they are designed to move the country forward.

He supports the policies, particularly the five percent wage increase for public servants, the removal of fees for under graduates at the University of the West Indies, the placement of social workers and safety officers in schools as well as the trust loan facility that is to be set up.

In the case of the latter, the Minister in the Ministry of Housing says the trust loan will help to promote entrepreneurship which will be necessary if people are to find meaningful employment going forward.

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