NOT ALL BLACK AND WHITE: Hitching a ride on the 50th birthday train
THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY of Barbados Independence will no doubt celebrate the aspirations of all Barbadian citizens for an education and to become “craftsmen of our fate”.
That being the case, why are we closing our schools for a full day right after the term starts, and why has the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) government wiped out the tax breaks on the books designed to help people achieve financial independence?
I will tell you why. As possibly the most unpopular administration to run the country since we gained Independence in November 1966, the Dolittle administration is hoping 2016 will be The Year of Feeling Good.
But the only thing this dithering regime understands is how to use political propaganda to further its own cause. And that is why, my friends, we will start celebrating our 50th anniversary of nationhood from this coming Wednesday.
I mean, 50 years is a long time and we want to get it right, don’t we? So, the schools will re-open to students on Tuesday, then close Wednesday for the official launch of the 50th anniversary celebrations, and “regular school will resume on Thursday, January 7,” notes the Government Information Service.
It’s ironic that the biggest thing that happened as a result of our Independence was the development of the costly but nationwide free education system which transformed our sleepy colony into one of the brightest hopes of small countries around the globe.
What message are we sending by closing down that very education system for this eleven-month-early launch? Could it not have been done this coming Sunday instead? Or maybe on Errol Barrow Day in a few weeks?
Once you have gotten your education and, hopefully, found a job you will start looking for a mortgage and to perhaps save for your retirement. So why would the things we dared aspire to achieve, which Mr Barrow and his successors told us to reach for over and over again, be suddenly stripped away from us? At least, the financial structure that enabled us to make these aspirations a reality?
In a newsletter emailed last week, KPMG summarised the major legislative amendments which have impacted Barbados’ tax system as we enter 2016. The two amendments summarised below were introduced by Finance Minister Chris “Sir Tax-A-Lot” Sinckler in last June’s Budget Speech. They will do the most to sink those financial aspirations culturally imprinted on our Bajan DNA by Barrow et al.
“Mortgage interest, etc. allowance: The BDS $10 000 deduction available in respect of expenditure on a residential property in the form or mortgage interest, insurance premiums, house repairs, renovations, energy saving or water saving devices are no longer available.
“RSP & RRSP contributions: Contributions to a registered retirement plan or a registered retirement savings plan by deduction from emoluments or otherwise may no longer be deducted from assessable income.”
In its Budget summary published a few days after the actual presentation, Ernst & Young included a spreadsheet comparing the income tax payable on an annual salary of $75 000 with and without the above incentives. With the incentives as they were until this past Budget Speech, the tax bill was just over $4 000 and with their repeal, it was just over $7 000.
So, it seems, the DLP government is going all out to promote our 50th birthday party having just repealed the incentives under which Bajans increased their ownership of property, and could become less reliant on their state pension.
With no answers for the public on the permission given to Cahill Energy to build a dangerous waste-to-energy plant which could endanger the Barbadian environment for the next half century and beyond, and with no strategy to grow the economy, the Dolittle administration can only do one thing: Hitch a ride on the 50th birthday train.
Patrick Hoyos is a journalist and publisher specialising in business. Email [email protected]