As Barbados Government Slashes Jobs, a Cabinet Minister Asks Private Sector to Pay Staff More

Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance Dr William Duguid says businesses are paying much less in corporation tax so they should be able to afford to give workers more money.

Wednesday November 28, 2018 – Even as Government reduces how much it pays in wages by sending home hundreds of public sector workers, a Minister is pleading with businesses to increase their wage bill by giving their employees a pay increase to boost economic activity.

Minister of Transport, Works and Maintenance Dr William Duguid made the call in Parliament yesterday on the basis of Government’s recent decision to lower the corporation tax rate from 30 per cent to between one per cent and 5.5 per cent.

“I am begging and pleading, now you are getting a reduction in the taxes you are going to pay, you are seeing an increase in business, you got a tax write-off on tax arrears, get out there and increase the amount that the people are paid, because if everybody plays their part it would help to turn this economy around and we need all to play our part,” said Minister Duguid, as he praised the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) for reaching an agreement with the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) on a three-year collective agreement for tourism industry workers.

He argued that Government’s five per cent pay hike in August this year –effective April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019 – was simply not enough to spur economic growth through consumer spend, since Government only employed about 25,000 people.

Arguing that the private sector employed approximately four times that number, Duguid said with the reduction in corporation tax he expected a range of sectors to now jump at the opportunity of granting their workers an increase.

“We are going to reduce your tax that you pay. So, if you were making taxable income of $100,000 you now going down to $5,000. You now got $95,000 in your company that you didn’t have before. Good gracious, you mean to tell me that you are not going to share that with your employees?”

“You got to look at giving the people an increase. It is not the unions, it is the private sector that has to understand that the people of Barbados have held strain. In the same way that the private sector joined with the then government and instituted a wage freeze – the wage freeze is off; the government gave an increase – join with us in the same way and give the employees an increase. I applaud the hotel sector. I want to see it in manufacturing, I want to see it in the retail sector, I want to see it in banking, I want to see it in insurance, I want to see it in sales, I want to see it all through Barbados,” added Duguid.

He contended that if private sector workers get more pay they would spend more and then the economic growth the country so badly needed, would take place.

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