The Bartica Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) has labelled Budget 2017 as a “monster budget” and has called on Government to rethink some of the burdensome measures entailed therein.
BCCI spokesperson Sherwyn Downer expressed concerns over the attraction of 14 per cent VAT on water and electricity, noting that it will definitely affect those who fall in the low income bracket.
“BCCI demands justification from the government for the poor decision of the proposed implementation of 14 per cent VAT on water and electricity,” he said in a statement to the media on Saturday.
Noting that Bartica’s economy has been in a coma due to falling gold prices, Downer said the 2017 Budget will only add to the economic misery of the new town.
“Presently, residents and business alike are experiencing financial hardships as Barticians depend solely on mining. The business community is experiencing a slowdown in business. No economic activity is taking place now and with the recent announcement of a possible 14 per cent VAT attraction on water and electricity can only be seen as the Government and the merchants attending the funeral of the poor,” the Chambers expressed.
BCCI highlighted that the living standards of Barticians will be severely interrupted because the masses expend more than $1500 and $10,000 on water and electricity, respectively.
“They will now be forced to make electrical appliances into home ornaments. For example, if one has a microwave, iron or fan they will avoid using these household comforts out of fear of a monstrous light bill exceeding $10,000 per month. On the other hand, for those residents who do not yet own a microwave, iron or fan they will now think twice about purchasing same,” the Chambers explained.
Additionally, BCCI urged the Government to consider exempting miners from the ban of used tyres.
According to the Chambers, new tyres will only have a long lifespan if driven on good roads but given that the roads miners typically use are in a deplorable state, new tyres would be challenging for all.
“With new tyres on vehicles and bad and unacceptable conditions of roads leading into the interior, the cost of transporting goods and services into the interior will skyrocket. Not forgetting too that taxi fares and public transportation cost will also increase. Where does that leave the poor?” BCCI noted.
The Chambers also contended that the hopes of the poor and entrepreneurs of elevating their economic status and standards of living have been shattered by the proposals made in Budget 2017.