Owen Arthur reaches out to vulnerable interest groups
Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur has described the suggestion by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler that citizens need to first pay in the municipal solid waste tax and then apply to him for relief as both “ridiculous” and “offensive”.
Arthur says the Finance Minister is making light of the fact that many simply cannot find the money to pay what he describes as an onerous tax.
“The only way you can prove undue hardship is only when you are not in a position to pay so that he is telling you to pay me and then tell me you can’t pay me,” Arthur told Barbados TODAY.
In response to appeals made in recent days from interest groups for relief, Arthur is now proposing that there be an “alliance of the vulnerable” to force the Government’s hand on the issue.
“There are a number of Barbadians that are going to be disadvantaged and they are members of organisations; the organisations should come together and put an alliance in place to plead on behalf of their members . . . and I am talking here about the BARP [ the Barbados Association of Retired Persons], the churches, all the special interest groups that represent people with special disabilities and whatever else and really that’s where the real undue hardship lies . . . those institutions can’t pay, their members can’t pay,” Arthur insisted.
The St Peter representative has been keeping busy this week compiling and submitting relief forms on behalf of his constituents. His team has so far handed in 20 forms to the Ministry of Finance but he stressed this was only the start as teams have been mobilised to go into the field.
“Those 20 are people who approached the office . . . what we started with are people where a clear case of undue hardship can be shown; people who are on a pension and for whom the pension is the only source of livelihood and for whom the pension is already fully committed . . . while we might have started with that narrow group, we have received requests for the templates all across the country and from abroad,” he said.
He explained that the requests that have come from abroad are from people who own property in Barbados who feel they have a legitimate case for exemption since they are not generating garbage at their properties.
“There are people who own property in Barbados who are not generating garbage because they come here from time to time and they are going to have to pay rough amounts,” Arthur said.