It is unfortunate that when some of us try to engage in a constructive debate about the economy, motivated only by love of country, others trivialize the attempt because they are blinded by party colours.
BU continues to be disappointed that despite the protracted volatility of the global economy, it seems to be having a null effect on the mindset of Barbadians and the political directorate. Instead of reconciling to a position to what we can do for our country, we continue to demand, demand, demand, more, more, more. Years and years of becoming bloated as a result of borrowing has caught up with us.
The time has come to select a new path. The aged model which has served us well must be dispensed with if we are to sustain our current way of life. Yes this government is to be commended for the increased dialogue about Renewable Energy (RE), and those policy initiatives which seek to wean Barbadians from its almost total dependence on fossil fuel. BU suggests that we have not done enough. Why can’t motor dealers be incentivised to sell Hybrid vehicles NOW? Why can’t taxpayers get a 2-3 year shelter up to 80% on tax filings when they retrofit their homes with RE devices NOW? We need to take significant decisions to kickstart desired behaviours. We give RE incentives yet facilitate the increase of vehicles which run on fossil fuel.
The recent statement by the Governor of the Central Bank and the Minister of Finance about the need to protect foreign reserves should be examined against government’s public energy policy. Did the Minister of Finance increase the taxable value of motor cars and reduce the excise tax on motor vehicles by 25% so that sales on mid-size cars in Barbados can trend North? Minister of Finance reported that he was responding to concerns of the motor vehicle dealers in Barbados who have cried out that motor car sales have slumped by 60%.
BU understands that this forex consuming beast known as motor vehicle dealers employs a number of people. A useful discussion therefore is to weigh the pros and cons of government’s decision given its impact on forex outflow. What we know is that the handout to the motor dealers will firm up existing behaviours. Should the government be doing the opposite?
Is it possible to have a discussion about how serious we are as a country about generating and protecting forex in Barbados? Are we on the right track? The government gets some points for its RE policy but is seems to be trapped in the lethargy caused by our civil service for which its reputation is well known.