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Do more to reduce prices, Government told


Shawn Cumberbatch

Do more to reduce prices, Government told
Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley. (FILE)

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Government can and must do more to reduce prices in Barbados, says Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley.

He said Government had the wherewithal to reduce taxes and duties imposed on imported goods despite the repeated statement that Barbados was largely a taker of prices, not a maker.

Atherley was speaking yesterday as the National Vending Bill, 2021 was debated in the House of Assembly.

“There is a debate raging in Barbados about the exorbitant increase in prices taking place in commodities across the spectrum in Barbados, starting with energy a little while back. A lot of hue and cry and the position by Government is that these are price increases, inflationary trends, that we are importing and over which we have no control,” he said.

“My view is . . . Government, by its tax structure; Government, by its duty structure, can help to shape prices and where we are importing some inflationary trends in prices, whether it is energy, or any other commodity, or any other import unit, there is a tax structure, there is a duty structure which is applied, and Government can address . . . [the] increasing escalation in prices by looking [and] amending its tax structure, its duty structure.”

Atherley said this was important because “it impacts on prices which are then available to those who are in vending, and when prices go up, sales fall off, revenue is reduced and diminished, and vendors feel the impact”.

“So whether it is the impact of inflated prices on the farming community, some of which have been caused by Government itself . . . . You can’t get away from that,” Atherley said.

“When you cause the cost to the farming community to increase, then resulting from that is increased cost to the vending public. When that happens, the guy who usually buys two pounds of onions will buy one, and therefore the man who usually carries home . . . the value of two pounds of onions can only carry home one,” he added. (SC)