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EDITORIAL – Scrutiny, yes; mere opposing hopefully not

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EDITORIAL – Scrutiny, yes; mere opposing hopefully not

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MINISTER?OF?FINANCE?CHRIS?SINCKLER, by announcement, does not expect his Budgetary measures and programmes outlined yesterday in Parliament to please everybody.
This rides on the notion that the “constrained fiscal and other circumstances” would not allow the “luxury”.
The truth is no Budget presentation ever pleases everyone; and Opposition Leader Owen Arthur later today will make a point of it.
We acknowledge Mr Sinckler’s admission that without doubt Barbados has grave challenges. And we proffer that with this recognition his Government is making every effort to grapple with them.
For the greater part, Mr Sinckler and his Government have laid out how they will deal with the problems facing the people of Barbados.
But it will not be without the scrutiny of the Opposition. And Mr Sinckler must not be consumed by any notion that the folk on the other side necessarily “derive some unexplained orgasmic pleasure out of seeing or hearing that Barbados has done badly or will do poorly, just so that they could say that they were right”.
The minister himself on reflection fights the belief that any Barbadian national would be so unpatriotic. We all live here.
But deeper comfort will be from not opposing for opposing’s sake. And that must be a political mantra on both sides.
Notwithstanding, there are some steps taken by Mr Sinckler towards ease or stimulation deserving of mention – not necessarily in order of importance.
Of considerable good to professionals and small businesses will be the enhanced amnesty under the Waiver Of Interest And Penalty programme offered by the National Insurance Department, the Value Added Tax Division and the Inland Revenue Department.
The 100 per cent waiver of interest and penalty on outstanding tax due to any of these departments, if payment of 80 per cent of the amount due is made in full by a “one-off cash payment” by December 31, is nothing short of a stimulus for those concerned about getting on the right side of the law.
The rebate of up to $5 000 for retrofitting their structures using solar energy, and the drop in interest on loans from the Agricultural Development Fund from 6.5 per cent to five over the next three years should please our farmers.
And stakeholders in the cultural industries should carry an even wider smile. An annual $10 million in resources will be available for promotion, marketing and distribution of work of Bajan musicians, artists, designer and chefs outside of Barbados; there will be selective waiver of duties on equipment for the upgrading of music studios; and on the cards is a multipurpose state-of-the-art cultural and performing centre.
As we alluded, there are other things wished for that were not forthcoming. They will be identified; and in these next two days their urgency or lack of will be fierily debated we are sure.