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Atherley: Small businesses will suffer

GERCINE CARTER, [email protected]

Atherley: Small businesses will suffer

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Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley has charged that the imposition of a two per cent foreign exchange fee will hurt small business operators in Barbados.

During debate on the Foreign Exchange (Amendment) Bill 2020 in the House of Assembly yesterday, he accused Government of an about-face on the measure, which was first introduced by the former Democratic Labour Party administration in its 2017 Budget, and which he suggested had been opposed at that time by the Barbados Labour Party Opposition.

Against push-back by MP from St Peter, Colin Jordan, who challenged Atherley’s assertion, the Opposition Leader stressed the fee was being imposed at a time when small business people were struggling with increases in utility costs, taxation, wages and other rising expenses, and this would add to their costs.

“It will, therefore stifle, or dampen attempts at self-endeavour or self-development in terms of business initiative,” the St Michael West MP said.

He conceded it might sometimes be necessary for Government to change its position on matters it previously opposed, but said: “If you are going to do that, you say that and you make it absolutely clear that we thought it was a bad thing then, but we think it is a good thing now in the circumstances.”

However, Jordan countered: “We still don’t think it is good. There is a certain prudence at this point in our economic circumstances that does not allow for us to stop it. We have not changed our view on whether or not it is good or bad, just the situation that we are in at the moment.”

Atherley also questioned whether the measure was being pursued to “dampen the demand for overseas purchasing”. (GC)