Monday 19 November, 2018

Tax hikes may put more on the streets, says BVHS President

President of the Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society, Kemar Saffrey.

President of the Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society, Kemar Saffrey.

With two weeks left before Government is set to implement the recently announced revenue-earning measures, President of the Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society (BVHS), Kemar Saffrey, is of the view the 2017 Budgetary Proposals could put more Barbadians on the street.

Saffrey told Loop News the state of the economy has already started to add to the levels of homelessness in the country. He said many have been reaching out to the BVHS pleading for assistance due to loss of employment. 

“We always say at the Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society when you affect the breadwinner you affect the household. If the household is five members and it is supported by one member, then that is five persons that could become homeless.”

Saffrey said he recognised that the size of government’s deficit called for stringent measures to be introduced but he said he believed the Finance Minister should collaborate with the Minister of Social Care to ensure the vulnerable ones in society are protected from such measures. 

"I do understand that the Minister has to find ways of stabilising the deficit but I think that certain things have to be put into consideration and vulnerable persons have to be put into consideration - that some of these persons are going to be affected. As I said, we have two to five [persons] coming on the streets per week. We have to wait and see now how much more it will affect - if it is going to move from five to ten [persons] a week when July comes and the taxes are raised.”

Of the revenue-earning measures announced, the eight percent increase in the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) has been receiving much negative feedback from the business community.

Saffrey said if measures are not implemented to deal with those from the lower income brackets who will be hardest hit by this drastic increase, homeless numbers could skyrocket.

“If we don’t find the shelters and we don’t find the ways to really help these people, we are going to have more people on the streets of Barbados than we have in the prisons."

"We can’t yet say that we are impacted by the Budget now. However, we’ve been impacted by previous budgets and previous taxes but with this new tax that has been imposed we now have to wait and see. Based on the predictions of the Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society, it is going to have a ripple effect on people becoming homeless.”