‘Comedy of errors’ via tax
Citing examples of miscalculations, a misleading report to the IMF and incorrect billing surrounding the Municipal Solid Waste Tax, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley said they pointed to incompetence in Government.
“What you had from the beginning of this tax was a comedy of errors. If it wasn’t so tragic it would be funny,” she told a mass rally at Carlisle Car Park last night.
She spoke of Government being hard-pressed for the tax revenue because representatives misled the IMF on its enactment date, because of embarrassment caused by applying it to diplomatic missions, and a jumble of figures relating to levy percentage and projected revenue.
She recalled initial confusion on the level of assessment and how much money it would bring in.
“Chris [Sinckler] tell you first .7 per cent tax will raise $49 million. Donville [Inniss] come out a week later . . . and he told you that the rate was a mistake.
“Would you believe that Chris come a week later and say there was no mistake? Only to come back six months later, and on the 17th of March to bring into Parliament a new bill with a rate of .3 per cent, less than half of .7 per cent.”
Referring to statements by the Minister of Finance on the expected revenue from this tax, she said: “He wants you to believe that if .7 per cent was going to raise $49 million, less than half would raise $51 million.”
“I tell you this boy can’t add.”
Mottley said Government’s representatives to the IMF informed that organization of the tax being in effect at a date earlier than the true starting time.
“This Government sent their executive directors at the International Monetary Fund . . . and told them to tell the IMF, as they did in a letter on the 10th of February, that the Municipal Solid Waste Act had become effective and that money would be collected in June.”
According to the IMF document, “statement by Mr Hockin, executive director for Barbados and Mr Dalrymple, advisor to executive director, February 10, 2014 . . . . The Municipal Solid Waste Tax became effective in January, 2014, with the first payment due in June, 2014”.
But Mottley pointed out: “The bill got introduced in Parliament on the 17th of March.
“Five Weeks before they introduced a bill, they told the IMF that it was already the law of the land . . . . They have told the IMF that it was law even before the Governor General signed it as law . . . on the 14th of April.
“. . . And that is why they cannot back off and listen to the cry of the Chamber of Commerce, the Private Sector Association, the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, the Dairy & Beef Producers, the churches, the Boy Scouts, the charities.”
According to the Opposition Leader, Solid Waste Tax notices were sent to those excluded from taxes, and where it does not apply.
“. . . The jokers I talking about send out bills to all the embassies and high commissions, when anybody who know about Government know embassies don’t pay taxes.
“And Barbados that was once punching above its weight now had to deal with the indignity of embassies coming to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and say, ‘I think you send the wrong bill to the wrong person’.”
Further, she said: “There are people in this crowd who received tax bills for land without buildings, and the law does allow them to tax you unless there is a building on the land.
“It is the wild wild west at BRA [Barbados Revenue Authority].”