Submitted by Frank Forde
In this our 50th year of independence, I am aware that blacks and other ethnic groups especially the whites made a contribution to the country. The question is, who made the greater contribution and if one follows the history of Barbados, one can clearly see that without labour and capital, Barbados would not be at the level of development as it is today.
Both blacks and ethnic groups contributed to the development of Barbados; the blacks contributed labour whilst the whites contributed labour and capital. In addition to the capital, the whites made a significant contribution to tax revenue.
Now if I were to follow the history of direct taxation in Barbados starting from the Income Tax Act,1921, the major portion of the taxation was provided by those persons who were in receipt of income above the tax threshold and these were known in the Inland Revenue Department as “CAPTIODs.” C stands for companies, A for persons engaged in agriculture, P for professionals, T for traders, I for investors, O for others who did not fall into the above categories and D for divided which were mainly partnerships. Tax rates were high as well as income and this revenue assisted the government of the day to provide free health care, education and other services.
In the eighties, when it was recognised that agriculture was declining and the tourist industry which was now the major industry could not provide the revenue that the agriculture sector provided, due to the concessions given to that industry, Barbados had to look for other sources of revenue and it turned to the offshore sector. At that time, Barbados went into it half heartily as there was resistance from various sectors and groups who felt that Barbados did not need foreign investment and that it could make it without such investment. Remember St. George’s University and “cadavers.” Now we are begging such universities and other businesses to locate here and today a large percentage of the population still believes that Barbados does not need such investment. Legislation enacted to encourage both foreign and local investment contained too many restrictions/ conditions that restricted some investments. This was done to protect the so called small man, who remained small despite all the incentives that were given to that sector. Numerous countries which were underdeveloped and encouraged foreign investments have surpassed Barbados in developing their export industries and as a result provided substantial employment for their citizens.
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