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Outspoken cleric blasts Government over layoffs and municipal tax

Onerous and unjust!

That’s how outspoken Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies Gerry Seale today rejected the controversial Municipal Solid Waste Tax.

In a strongly worded letter to Barbados TODAY, Seale also described the levy as “the desperation tax”.

While noting that many Barbadians had been voicing concern about the tax, he also warned that it was “pushing this government towards the increasing flood waters where it’s moral right to govern is being eroded”.

The well-known cleric also suggested the tax was unrighteous, pointing out that Jesus was challenged about the rightness of paying taxes imposed by the Romans.

“Jesus’ response was, ‘pay therefore to Caesar the things that are due to Caesar, and pay to God the things that are due to God’.

He also noted that early in Caesar Nero’s rule as Emperor, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them” .

“It would not be long before this same Nero launched a vicious and bloody persecution lasting years against the Christians and earned himself a place in infamy — justly or unjustly — as the Caesar who played his fiddle while the city of Rome burned,” Seale warned.

He also took the ruling the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) government to task for promising Barbadians no layoffs during the last election and reneging on that promise on assuming office.

Seale said: “We all understood the DLP to have promised in last year’s election campaign that there would be no jobs lost should they be elected to office. To allow that impression to have been created then and say now that this was not promised is disingenuous at best.

“I have been unable to understand how sending home 3,000 people at the bottom of the economic ladder was going to save Government the kinds of multiplied millions of dollars that we were supposed to be saving through this exercise,” Seale added.

The cleric contended that if the Government wants him to take it seriously it needs “to shave four or five posts of one of the largest Cabinets this country has ever endured and send into early retirement some of the proliferation of senior civil servants”.

Seale charged that sending home people at the level of day labourers might satisfy the International Monetary Fund, but “it really fails to achieve what it is touted to accomplish and increases the hardship at the level which can least endure such hardship”.

Stressing that the Municipal Solid Waste tax was a burden, Seale said: “ Now we are struggling with the ‘desperation tax’ which others more knowledgeable than me have outlined the inequality of this tax. It has also been shown by others how this tax will increase the cost of living as landlords raise their rents and the merchants increase their prices on goods and services to cover this imposed cost.

“Telling people who cannot afford to pay that they must pay and then apply for a refund is nonsensical and I am inclined to believe that the media somehow misrepresented the Minister of Finance. He couldn’t really have said that,” Seale remarked.

He said persons have already called him with requests to help them pay the levy, but pointed out that the churches collectively had to find hundreds of thousands of dollars to “render to Caesar” before they can lift a finger to help senior citizens or financially challenged members.

The Bishop said he took no comfort in the promise that the tax will be reviewed in a year’s time, recalling that the increase in the Value Added Tax to 17.5 per cent was to be reviewed years ago.

The cleric said it hurts him to watch other economies in the region and beyond showing signs of recovery, but not Barbados. He said that the country could not go on like this.


4 Responses to IT’S A SHAME

  1. Olutoye Walrond July 18, 2014 at 2:51 am

    Well, well. The Church is not sleeping afterall. I wonder what the leadership of the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist and Moravian churches are thinking when they see this.

    But Mr. Seale, if we take your advice and pay to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s we will not have anything left for God.

  2. Patrick Blackman July 18, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Very silly comment Olutoye, there was nothing wrong with the tax, it only affected high value assets individuals who could easily afford to pay it. And yes I did visit the moon, I actually saw you there as well. hahaha

  3. Rickie Nurse July 19, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    Mr. Blackman, I honestly believe that you are totally delusional into believing that there’s nothing wrong with this taxation, or you have your head so far up where you cannot see the sun shining.

    For you to say that it will only affect high value asset individuals who could easily afford to pay is mind boggling. Everyone has to pay on the improve value of their property regardless of whether they have a palace or a cow pen on their property.

    Businesses such as hotels and restaurants who will have to pay this tax, will not accept absorb that loss of revenue without passing it back onto their employees, either by way of reduce working hours or by the reduction of staff, there by the common person is affected futher.
    They already pay for waste and garbage collection to private firms and not to the SSA, to ask them now to pay this tax is wrong.

    Government cannot tell persons to pay the tax, give it a try and see if it work and expect it to be done blindly, when persons are already facing and feeling the hardship in this country.

    Your logic therefore is baseless, just like this government believing that it will work.

  4. Patrick Blackman July 21, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Rickie, the point I am trying to make here is that due to the inflated property values (both land & houses) many idividuals and companies have seen a significant increase in their asset base and the land taxes have not moved in line with this increase therefore government has to move to get some of that increase value. The average bajan does not own what we would have considered in the past as high value properties, but due to this property inflation such assets are now very valuable.

    Your point about the hotels is also a non point, government cannot continue to support an industry to the exclusion of all others. The hotel industry does not support local farmers to any measurable extent, if they really wanted to support it , their input would be at least 75-90% local but that is not the case.

    The hotel industry is moving in the same direction at the sugar industry did years ago, they just bleed the government for subsidies and concessions constant to the extent that no support was given to manufacturing which eventually died. Having fleeced the government they then moved into to tourism (which government heavily subsides) and land development. These are the idividuals who have caused the inflated land prices in Barbados by creating the gated communities and up scale villa market.

    How can the average bajan afford to buy a piece of land now when the average price is in excess of 100k. I remember a few years back when I owned the property which is know as “Patanne Gardens ” which was acquire for less than 30k at the time, I wonder know what would the cost of that property today.


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