It is ironic that in the historic month of November when Barbados prepare to celebrate ‘independence’ from England in 1966 AND jettison the Queen of England as our head of state, we are being described in some quarters as beggars and borrowers. Those with political blinkers will be happy to apportion blame to BLP or DLP.
Barbados has earned the classification as a high price destination for a reason. In order for government to meet the expense of supporting our way of life, taxes are levied on citizens to collect revenue. The majority of citizens if asked will understand the requirement to collect taxes, disagreement comes deciding which services, commodities should be taxed and by how much.
The news that government will be updating the master list of tariffs has triggered a lot of debate in the country. Unfortunately as an import dependent island, we have to import from wine to iodine. The blogmaster holds the view successive governments are happy the manage the cost of living by manipulating tariffs to protect precious foreign exchange reserves – internal devaluation. It is a fine balance successive governments of Barbados have managed to protect the parity of the dollar.
Last week local talk show moderator Dr. Kristina Hinds asked why women underwear attract a higher tariff compared to male underwear. Another example how duty impacts final cost was illustrated in this example posted to Twitter by @Michael B. of a tee shirt for $40.00 attracting $73.84 in shipping fees, $133.19 import duty, VAT$43.23 and 2% foreign exchange fee $2.28. Total final value based on ASYCUDA calculator $292.54. Apparently the brokerage fee is not included in the calculation! A reminder duties are calculated on the CIF which means to focus on the original cost of the item is misleading.
Minister Ryan Straughn has rationalized the updating of the tariffs has been done within the context of Caricom as it relates to where goods originate. Whatever the means.
A legitimate question to be asked is why was the government quick to forgive 500 million in VAT takings and is in hurry mode to revise the 2017 tariff list? We know the answer, government is leaking revenue and as usual looking for the easy fix. Analogous to the BWA leaking 50% of the to the aquifer and instead of an aggressive program to replace 100 year old pipes, the solution is to increase the water rate – reminiscent to the 60% rate hike by the late prime minister David Thompson government.
Here is a suggestion from a BU family member, collect duty from those importers who misuse the barrel trade. How many of the barrels include mock hair and the receiver of the barrel goes scot-free by paying a flat $100.0 fee? For goodness sakes, understand the inflationary effect a hike in customs duties will have on households AT THIS TIME. Again, we are an import dependent country, successive governments have embarked on a policy approach to import items because local cost of production is high. Here we are again, rampant conspicuous consumption has returned to bite us in the rear.
We have become addicted to a lifestyle that is unsustainable. Blame successive governments, blame citizens, blame both groups. We will descend to the bottom of the pit TOGETHER.