Though the Minister of Finance is proclaiming that the Basket of Goods will be exempt from the NSRL, we are yet to see the required legislation brought to Parliament to enforce the exemption, making it the law of the land. Until that is done, distributors and retailers are under no obligation to keep the 300 – odd items in the ‘basket’ at their current prices. Yet another instance of a poorly conceptualised and implemented fiscal policy on the part of Mr. Sinckler and the DLP government.
But even if or when the appropriate legislation is in place we will still have to endure a steep rise in the cost of living. Simple, basic items are not in the ‘basket’: toiletries, detergents and cleaners, sanitary products are but a few. Come August, when back to school shopping is at its peak, we will truly feel the pain of these measures as the cost of school supplies, stationery and uniforms will increase.
Additionally, the price of gasoline and diesel for our vehicles, motorcars, weed whackers and standby generators will increase.
It will be particularly tough for persons running a small business; not only will they too have to pay more to just live but the cost of their operations will increase. Food and fruit vendors, owners of boutiques, hair and nail salons, repair shops and restaurant owners will all be faced with increased costs.
The Foreign Exchange fee will also be financially devastating. Persons purchasing a product from another country will have to pay to have it shipped to a freight forwarder, then to Barbados; when you go to collect your package you will have to pay further charges for entry, duties, postage to Barbados, VAT and the Environmental Levy.
If you paid with your credit card you will have to add 2% to your credit card bill in Foreign Exchange fees. The Minister’s latest back – pedalling announcement that the Foreign Exchange Fee will be implemented later in the month is but another example of the poor crafting of these draconian policies in the first place. Far too often he has announced new measures, only to have to delay their implementation or scrap them altogether because they were not well thought out from the outset.
Regardless of the uncertainty as to their implementation dates, the one sure thing is that these measures will wreak unheard – of suffering in the lives of Barbadians, at a time when so many are already finding it extremely difficult to simply live from day to day.