Arthur to lead test of municipal tax law
The pending municipal tax will soon be put to test when a number of Barbadians plead hardship in paying this new levy.
What could become a mass movement of protest is set to be started by St Peter Member of Parliament Owen Arthur who last night announced plans to encourage all financially challenged constituents to capitalize on a provision of the new law to avoid paying this imposition.
“I shall, on behalf of the people of St Peter, start assembling a team to make sure that all of my constituents, who I can show are facing undue hardship by this most pernicious piece of backward and bankrupt legislation, that you shall have on your desk all of the representation of the suffering poor from St Peter who can take it no more,” he said in a message to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.
Arthur was at the time addressing a Barbados Labour Party St Joseph branch meeting, when he pointed out that Section 5 of the law empowers the Minister of Finance to grant exception to payment to persons who can prove hardship.
That legislation was passed in Parliament in April, and now awaits assent by Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave before becoming law.
“As soon as the law comes into existence. I will start [mobilizing] on it . . . ,” he said.
Section 5 reads: “If the minister is satisfied on grounds of undue hardship, or for any other reason that it would be just and equitable to do so, he may remit or refund the whole or any part of the tax imposed under this act, including any penalties thereon, payable or paid by any person.”
“There shall be a constituency project in St Peter to make sure that the Minister of Finance is faithful to the provision of Section 5 of the act,” Arthur told the crowd in the Grantley Adams Memorial School auditorium, as he encouraged other Members of Parliament to follow his lead in their constituencies.
“I am going to organize my constituency office and bring all of my key people in St Peter together and I am going to identify all who are living in house and shed, all the pensioners, all the people beneath the threshold at which we were giving the reverse tax credit.”
He hastened to explain that the well to do would be excluded in this mobilization.
“I’m not asking for anything unreasonable. I’m not going to go into a place like opposite the Marina and bring them because I do not think that they are facing undue hardship,” Arthur said.
Arthur told the meeting that among reasons for objecting to the tax, which must be paid by July 28, is that successive Barbadian leaders, including him, had ensured that citizens were afforded land ownership in relative financial comfort.
Recalling a number of legal measures implemented over the years to ease Barbadian property owners, Arthur said the municipal tax is an imposition that runs counter to Barbados’ development.
“People have to be allowed to live peacefully in this country in their habitations,” he said.