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Boost farmers, says Clarke

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St George North MP Gline Clarke believes Government should introduce direct subsidies to help farmers affected by praedial larceny.The suggestion came during his contribution to debate on the Income Tax (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2010 in the House of Assembly yesterday.The amendment is to provide for a rebate to be given to farming people who import agro-processing machinery. The rebate was announced by the Barbados Labour Party administration in 1999 and was to come into effect in April of that year, but the enabling law was never passed.Clarke said if Government really wanted to do something for agriculture, it should put money into the sector. He suggested that people who provided evidence that they had suffered loss of crops through theft should have access to funding.He suggested that Government was putting more money into constituency councils and summer camps than it was allocating to agriculture.But on a point of order, Leader of Government Business, Chris Sinckler, refuted Clarke’s comments as misleading, noting that in excess of $30 million was put into the agricultural sector, a figure that far exceeded what was spent on the councils and camps.Clarke noted the World Trade Organisation had given the thumbs down on governments subsidising agriculture in developing countries, but farmers in developed countries still got direct subsidies from their governments. Clarke also suggested that Government should desist from getting involved in setting up open markets for vendors. He stated that they could provide the facilities but should allow people in the sector to deal with the specifics. (WG)