Business leaders review Budget
GOVERNMENT’S BUDGET was more about raising revenue and did not pay enough attention to cutting costs and growing the economy.
That seemed to be the consensus of a cross section of business leaders as the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted its annual post-Budget breakfast discussion at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning.
Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Tracey Shuffler said she hoped Government’s focus on raising revenue meant the island would be borrowing less and she was disappointed the renewable energy sector did not receive help in Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s proposals.
Shuffler said Government’s requirement for a license had all but stalled the renewable energy sector and that the uncertainty had also disrupted the operations of several local manufacturers. She saw a need for more clarity and more encouraging measures to stimulate private sector activity.
Barbados Private Sector Association chairman Alex McDonald told the large audience that the Budget would take $200 million from Barbadians while only giving them $4 million in assistance.
He said instead of trying to fill and plug holes in the state’s finances Sinckler should have focused on stimulating economic growth.
Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association president Sunil Chatrani said his group did not lobby for concessions prior to the Budget and hence was not surprised that tourism received no help in the presentation.
However, he was concerned about the increase in land tax, saying this would impact hotels “quite significantly”.
University of the West Indies’ economics lecturer Dr Winston Moore said the Budget was clearly about raising revenue and did not intend suppressing Government’s spending.
The economist said if all of the measures were efficiently implemented it would help Government reduce its fiscal deficit, but he said something needed to be done about Barbados’ big debt problem, something that was not addressed in the Budget. (SC)