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Check Those Prices Carefully

Sharon Austin

Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler. (FP)

Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler. (FP)

Check those prices carefully!

That is the strong message from this island’s Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, in light of the warning of businessmen that with the introduction of the National Social Responsibility Levy this Thursday, September 1, the price of goods could rise substantially.

Mr. Sinckler said he heard an advertisement from a company inviting consumers to make purchases at the lower price now because on September 1 the cost of items would increase.

“Now I know the system well enough to know that that particular company has quite a bit of stock in Barbados and that stock would have come into Barbados through the Bridgetown port without two per cent on it. So, therefore, there should be no immediate change in the price of the product being provided on September 1. That would have to come when the restocks come in, sometime later,” he pointed out.

The Minister said he viewed with much interest the “alacrity” with which some business people seemed to be almost “gleefully” announcing the high prices. “I think consumers and the agencies responsible for consumer protection, whether it be private or public, should be very weary and alert as to what we see transpire,” he stated.

He noted that the Ministry of Commerce has a responsibility to monitor prices and alert Barbadians. However, Mr. Sinckler reminded consumers that they had choices and advised them to choose wisely.

“Those persons who see unreasonable behaviour …, I am not accusing anybody of doing anything wrong, but if it occurs and where it is clearly perceptible that people are being unreasonable, then they should shift their purchases to somewhere else, where a more reasonable behaviour is being exhibited,” he urged.

The Minister announced recently in this year’s Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals that a National Social Responsibility Levy would be imposed on September 1, to assist in offsetting the costs associated with financing public health care service provision in Barbados.

He said: “The levy will be applied at two per cent on the customs value of all imports at the border with the exception of goods for the manufacturing, agriculture and tourism sectors as covered under existing primary legislation such as the Fiscal Incentives Act and the Tourism Development Act.

“These are being excluded so as to avoid any double taxation since the two per cent tax must also be applied on domestic output to ensure fair treatment under WTO and CSME regulations.”

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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